“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. 😉
* 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! 🙂

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

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! 😉

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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! 😀

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

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. 😉 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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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. 😉

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. 🙂 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. 🙂 Dad, Charlie & I love you so very much!

All my love,


“DO IT MYSELF!” (A lesson in patience)

Dear Alex,

I know I know, this is WAY overdue…. you’re already sneaking up on the 2 1/2 mark all too quickly. We’ve been pretty busy, adjusting to life as a family of 4! And I’ve been trying to give Charlie monthly letters this first year just as I did for you, so admittedly that’s been a higher priority. That’s not to say that you haven’t been growing and changing quite a bit these past few months! You’re very much a little boy now– most of your baby fat is gone (no more Buddha belly!) and you clocked in at exactly 3ft tall (and 35lb) at your last checkup. You run, jump and climb quite well but still have a little ways to go with your fine motor skills. I think that’s a skill you’re subconsciously working on though, because you’re very into jigsaw puzzles and stickers. Also, you insist of doing everything yourself these days (“DO IT MYSELF!”), from buckling yourself in the carseat each morning to putting on your pajamas each night. Patience is a virtue for sure, and it’s required in spades for dealing with you at this stage of your life!

The only exception to doing things yourself is eating– although you’re pretty good with a fork and spoon when you want to be, you ask us to feed you quite a bit. I think it has something to do with Charlie’s arrival and seeing us feeding him all the time. Actually now that he’s eating “solid” food you’re always asking for bites of whatever he’s eating. Poor kid! But as far as your own food goes, often times you barely touch your dinner these days no matter what it is. I think you are just hoping we hurry through it so you can go play! Unfortunately for you our family rule is that you don’t have to eat dinner, but you do have to sit there until the last person is done eating. That is our special family time, lots of conversations and general silliness happen at the dinner table. That and bedtime are two of my favorite parts of the day with you.

That being said, bedtime has had its series of challenges lately… from waking up with nightmares for the first month or so after Charlie was born (anxiety I think), to being DEATHLY afraid of the bath and shower for over two months (one time you cried so hard that you made yourself vomit– OMG), and most recently refusing to go to bed and crying your little eyes off whenever we try to leave the room. I do take the time to read you a story, sing songs, snuggle and chat with you each night and it’s great… but with my life going at warp speed from the moment I wake up at 4:30am until I lay down in my bed each night after whatever hour you and Charlie are in bed for the night, I’m beyond exhausted so the delays in bedtime get frustrating. On the flip side, my heart breaks a little inside when your little face drops and you reach your arms up and ask for “more snuggles please!” How can I say no to that? I know the day will come all too quickly that you don’t ask for that anymore, and so I’m trying my best to be patient (I guess that’s the word of the day) and enjoy the special time with you. I’ve gotten into the habit of asking you three questions each night while we’re laying in your bed at the end of the day– (1) What made you happy today? (2) What made you sad today? (3) What did you learn today? It’s interesting to hear your answers. Lately, the answer to #3 is “triangles!” almost every day. LOL

It’s so great being able to have real conversations with you. As I said earlier, you’re such a little boy (sometimes Dad & I are like “Holy crap, he’s a little PERSON now! We made a PERSON!”) with lots of thoughts, opinions and feelings that you want to share and discuss with us. You speak in complete sentences & you’re a little sponge, learning all sorts of new things constantly (your favorite question these days is “What’s that?” which I’ll take over “Why?” any day, although I know that one is coming soon)… an even better analogy is a little parrot, because you literally parrot back to us almost everything that we say. Except curse words– you’ve figured out that some words are forboden and when you hear one of us use a bad word you say “Don’t say that word, Daddy!” (Let’s face it, 90% of the time Dad is the offender in these situations, haha.)

Your little personality has also blossomed quite a bit in the last few months. You’re still shyer than many of the kids this age, but also a lot more outgoing than you used to be. You’re quicker to be willing to leave my side in new situations, and talk to people more freely now. A couple weeks ago we were walking through the neighborhood and came across a guy gardening in his front yard, and you struck up a conversation with him. That day you were wearing an Avengers shirt and asking the guy who was who on your shirt (as he was apparently an Avengers fan too), then you tried to give him your stuffed Cookie Monster which is pretty high praise! Haha. You’re not always so great about sharing, but you do seem to be more sensitive and caring of others’ feelings than many kids this age are. You LOVE to make people smile and laugh. You’re the biggest ham! When someone is visibly sad, you’re quick to let me know (“that girl is crying!”) and try to do something to make them feel better. We actually lost one of your toy trucks at the kid’s hair salon a month or two ago because another little boy was crying during his haircut, and you gave the boy your toy truck to help him feel better. Then we ended up leaving before he did and forgot about it. You’re very affectionate (super generous with hugs & kisses 🙂 ) and overall just a super sweet guy.

Of course this piece of your personality shines through the most in your interactions with your little brother. A common phrase heard in this house is “Mom, Charlie’s crying again!” LOL. You still ask where he is almost as soon as you wake up each morning, giving him kisses and hugs CONSTANTLY. You share your toys with him and try to play with him as much as you can. You do your part in taking care of him as much as you’re able to at this age– throwing away dirty diapers & bringing me clean ones (we keep a little step stool by Charlie’s changing table so that you can “help”), shaking up Charlie’s formula and burping him when he’s done eating, picking out his clothes & pajamas to wear, putting his pacifier back in Charlie’s mouth when he drops it, cheering him on when we’re working on skills like rolling & sitting, and most of all being Charlie’s #1 source of entertainment. You two love each other so much, and although I’ve said this many times I’ll say it again: it’s by far my greatest joy as a parent so far. Being a working mom of an infant & young toddler is TOUGH, so much tougher than I ever imagined… but my God, seeing your little faces light up looking at each other makes every struggle worth it.

And with that I think the rest of our recent adventures together can be told through pictures and videos…

Visiting a local farm park… you actually HATED this place, I think for some reason you were just in a crappy mood that day, and we had to leave early. :-\ But at least we managed to get one cute picture out of it!

The 2015 “Touch-a-Truck” festival! You were not into this place at first… I think it was overwhelming for you with the big crowds of people & all, but you were happier with it by the end.

A candid snuggly moment Dad caught on camera. 🙂

Of course we went down to Hampton for Easter weekend and enjoyed visiting family. You were really into the egg hunt this year! It was so nice having the Pachecos and Stoddards together for one celebration this year. The weekend after Easter we had our annual egg hunt with the playgroup too, so by then you were a pro. 😉 I absolutely adore that bottom photo– you look like a little model.

Tuckered out after a friend’s birthday party.

Despite the impression you might get from that first video (throwing cell phones is fun!), you LOVE to sing songs. You can really see the progression over the course of these videos– it started with me singing most of the lyrics to songs and you filling in a word here or there, but now you know all the lyrics to a HUGE variety of songs (and half of those being Sesame Street related, of course), and sing quite a bit by yourself. A few weeks ago we were in the exam room at the pediatrician waiting for the doctor to come in and see you, and you were singing a whole bunch of different songs AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS because that’s just how we roll… and as we were leaving the nurses stopped us to thank you for singing and said it really made their day. So cute!

Potty training… oh gosh, what isn’t there to say about potty training?! It’s going, it’s not going, it’s going, it’s not going. I will say we’ve made some progress in that you will pee/poop in the potty if we take you there, and a lot of times you will even tell us when you have to poop (albeit too late about half the time). With pee though, you usually don’t tell us and just go in your diaper still. I do think at this point you’re pretty much ready and could be potty trained if we were to push it harder, but honestly we just haven’t had the energy (or the nerve) to do this yet. It’s going to entail all of us staying home for an entire 3-day weekend and just putting you into underwear so that you can feel what it’s like to have an accident, but a totally free 3-day weekend is extremely hard for us to come by. So for now, the truth is it’s been easier to just keep you in diapers since you are still content with that. But I don’t think that we’ll do that much longer. I’m running out of excuses not to potty train you. :-X

This is how you felt from being woken up from your nap to go to the circus. Really any time we have to wake you up rather than letting you wake on your own, it ends up looking like this. You did enjoy the circus though! The animals and the acrobats were your favorite parts, particularly the high wire motorcycle.

Thought I’d better contrast that last photo with a happy one. 😉 You’re not always fussy, and in fact I think you’re a lot less fussy than other kids your age I’ve met, at least when you’re with me. Anyway, in this picture you & I were gardening in the front yard while Dad mowed the lawn. You enjoyed pulling up weeds… perhaps a bit too much, because you pulled up some of my loriope too.

Hanging out with your buddy Colin!

Making cookies with your girl Autumn. 😉 This little princess had you wrapped around her finger from the moment you saw her. I brought you downstairs to hang out with her after a nap, and within 30 minutes she had you putting on her shoes for her and kissing her hand! LOL

Although you have many people friends, NO ONE tops your Sesame Street pals! You had a few of these before, but a generous friend of mine sent the rest of the gang for you. You adore them all and insist on dragging them all over the house, playing pretend with them, chatting with them, showing them to Charlie or simply moving them from one spot to another. You tuck them into bed, cook with them in your kitchen, take them outside and swing/slide with them, sit them all in a row and teach them songs, and much much more. I don’t know why we’ve wasted money on other toys as these guys are all you need to be happy. When we leave the house I do limit you to just taking one friend at a time, and at night you can only have 2 of them with you in bed.

These guys have even taken the place of Baby– I bought you a new Baby a few weeks ago as your other one had gotten so beat up… Well, first I tried to get you a Cabbage Patch Kid doll so that you could have a bigger/more durable friend to play with. But you declared that “he smells!” and refused to have anything to do with him (and it’s true– the plastic on his head was vanilla scented, LOL). So then I was able to track down another Baby just like the original but with an orange outfit instead of blue. You like him, but choose your Sesame Street friends over him when forced to make the choice. And now I have just spent entirely too much time discussing your stuffed animal/doll collection. Oy!

Breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day!

You & Dad have been doing this toddler baseball camp on Saturday morning for the past month or so. You’re always a little shy with it, but do seem to enjoy it once you warm up to it. They do all sorts of little baseball and teamwork related exercises, but you seem to pretty consistently HATE the part where they have you guys put on baseball gloves to try and catch baseballs. There’s almost always a meltdown during that part of class. :-\ Not sure why that is. We’re going to try bringing your own baseball glove from home next time, since you seem to like that one just fine.

You’ve gotten to where you’ll put yourself in time out when you commit a punishable offense (and sometimes your toys if they misbehave as well– “Turtle hit me! Time out Turtle– TWO MINUTES!!”) We actually only do time out when you hit, although I’m not sure how effective it’s been. Lately I’ve been trying “time in” with you instead– where when you get upset and start tantruming, I take you to a quiet spot and force you to sit in my lap doing something soothing (like taking deep breaths) until you calm down. Then after you’re calm and able to listen properly, we talk about whatever it is that you did wrong or that made you upset. That seems to be working a little better– last night you actually randomly turned yourself away from me & Charlie and started deep breathing on your own. I asked if you were okay and you said “yeah, just breathing” and after a few minutes you turned back to me and said “I feel better now” and gave me a hug. I was feeding Charlie at the time, my theory is maybe you were upset that I was busy with Charlie and not paying enough attention to you. So…. maybe the time ins are working? Parenting is truly one huge mindf*ck of trial and error. :-X But I do like the theory behind it better than time-outs, so I will keep it up.

A month or so ago you had a bad cold that brought about another ear infection (just when I thought you were finally done with those, ugh!). While we were waiting for the pharmacy to get your meds together, I took you to the Subway next door to share some milk & cookies. 🙂 But even now, weeks later, any time we go by that Subway you’re like “Get a cookie?” You’ve got a memory like a steel trap!

Learning the important life skill of drinking the milk out of the bottom of your cereal bowl.

More meal time shenanigans. Like I mentioned earlier, dinner every night consists of us talking about how our day went, then doing silly stuff like this. You are such a funny little kid!

The Hartleben family reunion (Nana’s side of the family) in WV! The reunion itself was awesome– you had fun swimming with your cousins in the pool and eating chocolate cake…. but the 6+ hour drive each way, refusal to nap, and hellish night in the hotel room taking turns waking each other up was seriously pure torture for us all. No one got much sleep and we were all so cranky & exhausted that we ended up cutting the trip a night short so that we could go home and have some time to rest at in our owns beds before going back to the grind that following week. Dad & I have agreed that we’re not going to do any more long trips with you boys, beyond the obligatory trips to Hampton, until you’re a few years older and can handle it better. On the bright side, you won’t remember much of what happens before you’re 4 or 5 years old anyway. And there’s lots of fun things to do close by, so no shortage of fun family experiences.

Fun times with Mom! We spend lots of time outside on your play set– we like to play restaurant in that bottom part, taking turns being the waiter & customer. You must be a fantastic chef, because you’re able to whip me up any food I ask for out of thin air. 😉 The bottom picture is from a recent trip to Clemyjontri, our favorite local park. You enjoyed all the swings, slides, things to climb on, and ESPECIALLY the carousel.

And last but certainly not least, lots of happy times playing with your little brother! 🙂 He’s never far from your side. We’ll see how long it lasts until you’re trying to get away from him. LOL. I suspect he won’t be as cute and fun to you when he’s mobile and able to snatch toys from you! But for now, we’re all enjoying the relative peace and harmony.

Phew, that’s about it! There are so many more cute pictures from the last few months, but just not enough time or space to share them all here. Suffice it to say that you are growing, learning, saying and doing SO MUCH every single day, constantly getting into new adventures and blowing our minds at how smart you are as well as how quickly you’re becoming an independent little being. It’s the most hilarious, fascinating, insanely awesome thing… and us parents are just along for the ride, trying not to completely screw things up. 😉

All my love,

Kicking off the Terrible Two’s

Dear Alex,

You are TWO! Of course I’m much later with this than I’d intended, so you’re actually well into two now. This second year really flew by, and it was really neat to see your rapid development occur over the course of that year. You went from not quite walking or talking… to RUNNING, jumping, talking in complete (albeit short) sentences and singing. You’ve learned most of your ABC’s, numbers up to 20, colors, shapes, animals, and so much more. Your personality has blossomed, too– you went from being a kid who takes at least half an hour to venture from my side at a playdate to a kid who yells “Hi, how you doing?!” to a stranger as we walk past them on the street. You have strong opinions and are getting better & better at expressing them. You like to help others and make people smile (you’re SUCH a clown!), give lots of hugs + kisses, and you’re quick to say sorry when you’ve done wrong or hurt someone. It has truly been such a joy watching you grow.

We didn’t do much on your actual birthday because it was so close to Charlie’s due date… we weren’t sure if I’d be in the hospital or not. Thankfully I was not, so we did at least take you out to a bounce house place, out to eat, and of course you have to have some cake on your birthday! 🙂

When you got that call from the Bubble Guppies in the morning, I don’t think you quite understood what it was. But you did ask for them to call again afterwards! It’s a good thing that we had you blow out birthday candles that night, because when we did your real birthday party a month later I forgot to bring a lighter to the party. :-\ So, you just pretended to blow the candles out instead. Lame I know, but the upside is that you basically ended up having two birthdays this year!

The month in between was largely uneventful… oh yeah, except for the little detail of you becoming a BIG BROTHER!


I think that picture more or less captures your reaction to Charlie’s arrival. 🙂 You’ve been a wonderful big brother so far, showering Charlie with hugs and kisses, helping me take care of him (although you have the attention span of a gnat at this age, so you only help in 10 to 30 second spurts), letting me know when Charlie is crying (“Mommy, Charlie’s hungry! Charlie dropped his paci!” Haha), and attempting to share your toys with him (and to my dismay, food/drinks as well). I have to watch you closely when you’re around him so that you don’t give him anything dangerous.






I think you’ll enjoy being a big brother even more once Charlie’s big enough to really play with you, but for now you’ve been very sweet and patient with him. Thank goodness. 😉

Between the new baby and the wintery weather, we’ve been stuck inside the house almost every day for the last couple of months. We’ve spent copious amounts of time playing with Play Doh, Legos and puzzles– those are your favorite things at the moment. You also really enjoy playing with stickers and occasionally painting or coloring with markers. I had to stop giving you crayons because you kept trying to eat them. :-\ Hide and seek is another big favorite around the house. Here’s some pictures and videos of the fun we’ve been up to the last few months:




“Peeky-boo!” Almost every night after dinner we sit around the table doing silly things like playing peek-a-boo. Sometimes Dad shows you some “magic” by making things “disappear” from under your cup. You try to do the same, but it’s mostly you yelling “ta-da!” a lot. Haha.


Playing the drums with your feet… Gosh, you’re so talented! 😉


The doctor is in! You like to play pretend with your doctor set, your play kitchen, and a set of pretend hats you got for Christmas.


Helping Dad put together what you decided was “a robot” but is actually a snow blower. LOL. Speaking of snow…

Unfortunately the snow that day wasn’t sticky enough to build a snowman, so we had to settle for snow angels instead.


You really like being wrapped up in blankets lately. Not sure if it has something to do with seeing Charlie wrapped up a lot. On this particular day we were joking about you being a “BIIIIIIG baby!”


Enjoying the bounce house at a friend’s birthday party recently! This one actually wasn’t your favorite; you preferred the one that had a slide on it. However, I wasn’t able to get many pictures of you on that one because it was so tall that you needed help getting up there, & you’d sit on my lap sliding down. One of the best things about being a parent is getting to do fun kid stuff like that, which you don’t often get a chance to do as an adult without kids. 😉


Relaxing in Mommy & Daddy’s bed on a snow day, watching TV. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that you watch your fair share of television… frankly I think it’s necessary when you are adjusting to life after adding a new baby to the family. Your favorite shows are Bubble Guppies, Daniel Tiger, Yo Gabba Gabba, and of course Sesame Street. You’re still Elmo-obsessed but have grown to love all the Sesame Street characters as well…

You’ll notice towards the end of that video a bit of the “terrible two” behavior coming out. It’s been occurring more & more lately. I guess you got the memo recently that you’re two now & you need to start acting like it. :-\ You’ve thrown tantrums/meltdowns over the most random things, like when you realized my galoshes wouldn’t fit you…


Or every morning when it’s time to take your pajamas off. Or when it’s too cold/wet to go outside & play. Or when you can’t have cookies for dinner. Or really pretty much any time we tell you “no.” :-\ Not that you are against the word in principle, because you love to say it yourself! You’ve also started to get bossy… words like “Mine!” and phrases like “Gimme that!” have entered your repertoire recently. But currently, the biggest challenge is hitting. You try to smack us when we tell you no. We’re working hard to nip that in the bud, but still have a long way to go unfortunately. Every day I pray for the patience, strength and grace to get through this phase of your life! 😉 Of course, it’s not all doom & gloom… this age is also a LOT of fun, and you can be ridiculously cute when you want to be. For example, just the other night after your fourth stint in time-out over the span of 30 minutes (for hitting me when you didn’t want to take a bath), I was kneeling down in front of you explaining why you were in time-out. Our faces were less than a foot apart. The conversation went something like this….

Mommy: “So Alex, you were in time-out because you hit Mommy. Hitting is not nice, and you really hurt me. It’s okay to be angry, but it’s NOT okay to hit people.”

Alex: …..

Mommy: “Do you have anything to say for yourself?” [Note: this is usually the part where you say sorry & give me a hug.]

Alex: *Reaches out & taps the tip of Mommy’s nose* “Beep!”

Oh man, it took everything in me not to laugh. I think you picked up on it though, because you did it several times before finally apologizing. Here are some other cute moments of yours from the last couple of months:



(This was adorable– we were hanging out in your room & you just randomly plopped down on the stool, faced me & started singing. What a little performer you are!)




That last picture was taken after I discovered you’d climbed out of bed during your nap & fallen asleep in the chair. It was so cute that I couldn’t really be too mad about it. 😉 Actually, sleep has been an issue lately for you as well. Ironically I’ve been so tired all the time these last few weeks not because of Charlie (which is what most people would think), but because of you. You fight naps & bedtime HARD, taking at least an hour to finally fall asleep, sometimes skipping naps entirely, and often waking in the middle of the night for several hours at a time. Sometimes you just play in your bed quietly, but other times you wake up crying and I have to go in there and calm you down. My best guess is a combination of anxiety from the big changes in our family dynamic, nightmares, and a cough you’ve had that seems to bother you more often at night than during the day. It’s one of those things where I just keep telling myself “This too shall pass…” Although to be honest, prior to having kids I never imagined I’d still be dealing with this much sleep deprivation at 2 years old. It can be really tough, especially without grandparents around to help out & give us a break.

Luckily spring is just around the corner, and my hope is that more time to exercise outside will help burn some energy and help you sleep better. We have a lot of fun things planned for this spring & summer, with the play group as well as with friends & family… Dad & I can’t wait to experience them all with our two amazing little boys! 🙂

All my love,



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!



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).





^ 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!



^ 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.



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





^ 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!





(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:


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.” 😉









^^ 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”



^^ 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. 🙂




^ 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.


^ 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!




^ 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!


^ 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.




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!):



^ 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










^ 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



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…


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


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,

The good, the bad and the funny

Dear Alex,

We’re wrapping up summer and you’ve just passed the 20 month mark… crap, that is dangerously close to 2 years old! In some ways I feel like we’re there already, as I see quite a bit of the “terrible two’s” behavior coming out already. Lots of crying/tantrums over the most random stuff, hitting, etc. We’ve instituted time-outs for you now in these situations, and have set up a lovely space for this that Dad called “the sin bin.” It’s actually just your pack & play set up in a corner. 😉 When you hit or throw a tantrum, you go into time out there for about 2 minutes. Another typical toddler behavior that has sprung up recently is being picky with your food. I think if it were up to you now you’d eat only carbs. I have to serve your veggies first with nothing else on the plate, or else you’ll skip over them to the other stuff. Sometimes even then you don’t eat them, which is weird because up until this point you ate pretty much EVERYTHING, especially veggies! I’m also going to try some new recipes soon that “sneak” veggies in, like zucchini muffins and such. Hopefully this is just a phase.

I mentioned that you randomly cry over stuff, but I should also mention that you laugh at the most random things lately too. A couple of examples– one morning while we were eating breakfast, you kept putting your face right in front of a bottle of honey and cracking up! Not sure why the honey bottle was so hysterical. Another one is that lately you crack up anytime someone gives you a thumbs-up, or points, or anything like that with their fingers. Apparently fingers are super funny! 😛 Toddler are very much little Jekyll/Hyde sort of people, with mood swings ALLLL over the place.

I mentioned the bad & the funny, but saved the good for last as there is just so, so much of that to share. 🙂 You are growing, learning, and maturing so very quickly lately. I’d been planning to add to the catalogue of words I started in the last letter for you, but you’ve added so many words to your vocabulary in the last two months that I couldn’t possibly remember them all now. You know many names of the common people in your life (including your own, which sounds more like “Aye-ex” at this point), many foods & common objects, several verbs (“watch,” “walk,” “read” and “eat” being your favorites), most of the niceties (please, thank you, i’m sorry), both yes and no, and several two word phrases (like “Mommy’s cup, “More please,” etc). You can identify some colors, letters & shapes, and quite a few of your body parts as well…

And you learn TONS new stuff everyday. You are such a smart little guy! Dad & I are so, so proud of you already. You’ve had a lot of other “firsts” this summer as well. One thing that I was a little nervous about what your first dental checkup, but you were a champ! We went to a really great pediatric dental practice, where all the staff were friendly and fun. They made sure you had a gentle & positive experience. The dentist said your teeth look great! 😀 This will sound silly, but after it was over I felt a little emotional, similar to when you got your first haircut… things like that are big reminders of how you’re very much NOT a baby anymore, how quickly you’re growing and how quickly the time is passing by. Another little “milestone” we had over the summer was the transition to a booster seat at restaurants (which is immensely easier to deal with than a high chair, although it doesn’t keep you as well-contained when you get fidgety). Here’s your first booster seat experience, during one of our Sunday family lunches at Bertucci’s:


And another one a few weeks later. This is a blurry shot but I love it because it’s a sweet moment between me & you. When we’re out to eat & you sit next to me in the booth, you frequently lean over & put your head on my shoulder, just because. 🙂


Anywho, we’ve spent as much of our time as possible outside this summer, enjoying all the fun & festivities this area has to offer. It was at one of these local festivals that you recently experienced your first carnival ride:

Of course, you LOVED it…. and I was not surprised, considering how much you love swings & slides, and it was only a slight step up from that. Speaking of swings & slides, here’s some more pics of our summer fun:




At the park with your pal Ella!



At kiddie band concert (The Milkshake Band!) with your friends Adelyn & Bree. You might have noticed by now… you have a LOT of girlfriends. Uh oh. 😉



Our play group had their first “birthday” party over the summer at our favorite park. It was so much fun! Everyone had a blast playing cornhole, blowing bubbles, riding the little train that goes around the park & just running around playing outside. Hard to believe it’s been over a year now since I started that group… it’s been quite successful & I’m very proud of it. 🙂 Many of our BFFs/”family” in the area are in our lives because of that group!



We went to visit Hampton for Labor Day weekend… you had a blast seeing your grandparents & cousins!




So this trampoline park opened up near our house a few months ago… you & I finally went to check it out recently. It was a BLAST, as you can see! 🙂




Lately I’ve been getting you to “help” me cook more often– this little booster tower thing lets you stand right next to me at counter height. Usually more often than not, you’re just sampling the ingredients. LOL. I also got you a little play kitchen off one of the yardsale sites & put it right next to our real kitchen, and you enjoy playing with that as well while I’m cooking.



Bedtime stories with Grandma & Daddy. 🙂 You may notice that you’re wearing the same PJ’s in both pictures… you really love those “puppy jammies.” Unfortunately we’ve just recently retired those and bumped you up to size 3T for pajamas. I’m stocking up on 3T clothes for the winter too. You’re growing so fast!




“Where’s Alex?!” LOL. One of your favorite things to play, mostly when we’re hanging out upstairs, is hide and seek. We had a weekend last month where we were all pretty sick and spent the whole weekend upstairs in bed. Here we are all snuggled up:


Not that being sick ever slows you down! Lots of hide & seek games were played that weekend. Haha. Here are some of my other favorite pictures of you from the last couple months:




We’re still working on you saying “cheese” for pictures… this is pretty much best-case scenario at this point, where you do indeed say cheese but you won’t look at the camera. We’ll keep working on it!





Admittedly, we take quite a few pictures of you while you’re sitting at the table… it’s pretty much the only place where you stay in one place long enough to actually GET a picture. 😉

That’s enough for one letter I think, although I could go on & on about all the stuff you’re up to these days. Every day is a new adventure with you because you’re learning and doing new things constantly. We’ve even started to dabble in potty training with some degree of success, but we still have such a long way to go on it that I don’t think it’s worth discussing in great detail just yet.

Anywho– until next time, my sweet boy! 🙂

All my love,


“Beebee!” (And other incomprehensible words)

Dear Alex,

It’s been such a busy and eventful summer…. and we’re only half way through it! I’m sorry I haven’t had time to write in awhile, but hopefully this insanely long letter will make up for it. You are a little over 18 months old now– the amount of growth and development that’s occurred in these last couple months seriously blows my mind. It is so cool, a true blessing, to be able to witness it and to think “I made this awesome little human!” 🙂 The biggest thing we’ve noticed is the sudden influx of words you’re adding to your vocabulary lately. However, many of the words are understandable to only me & sometimes Dad. So, I thought I’d come up with a little “Alex translator” here to help our friends and family out. Here are the words you have down pat, where what you’re saying is actually what you mean… at least the ones I can think of, I’m sure there’s more:


And here’s the ones that need translation:

“Dow” = Down
“Baw” = Ball or ball-shaped object (you’ve been calling grapes “baws” lately too)
“Caw” = Car, truck, or just about anything with wheels
“App” = Apple
“Peas” = Please (you are EXCELLENT about saying please to get what you want. It’s effing adorable.
“Mow” = More
“Momo” = another word for Elmo
“Beebee” = Baby
“Papa” (only said in a whisper for some reason) = Papa and/or Grandma
“Coh” = Cody, our dog
“Eee-eee” = Annie, our dog… or Eat, depending on the context involved

And of course, there’s a whole gaggle of “words” that you babble all the time, of which we have no clue what they mean. LOL

In less exciting news, we had a period where nights were REALLY rough for awhile… you’d wake up sometime between 12-3am crying and wouldn’t go back to sleep for HOURS. Later we would find out it was due to teething, a growth spurt (you’ve shot up almost 2 inches in the last couple months), and yet ANOTHER ear infection. They always seem to happen when you get new teeth, and considering it was the molars this time (a doozy!) I wasn’t surprised. What sucked the most about it was that you came down with the infection while Dad & I were on vacation in Puerto Rico, so we couldn’t do much to help you. We also moved you to your first “big boy bed” not long after the ear infection cleared up, so I suppose that complicated things a bit too. There were many, many nights where Dad & I took turns sleeping in the bed with you to help you get used to it. I do not handle lack of sleep very well, especially on top of other health conditions that I’ll discuss shortly, so my sanity level was pretty low for awhile there. The good news is, things are more or less back to normal now & you sleep in that big boy bed like a champ!

Here’s one from one of those nights where you would only sleep in my arms. Although it was exhausting, I have to admit I enjoyed the extra cuddle time. 🙂 During the day you’re so busy & all over the place that cuddles are rare.

We’re still working on the decorations in your “big boy room,” but it’s going to be baseball/Washington Nationals themed. 😀 I’ll take pictures of all of it when we’re done!


Notice the funny little creature laying in bed next to you… that’s Elmo, AKA “Momo,” who you adore and take EVERYWHERE with you. You love all Elmo-related toys, books, shows and other paraphernalia. Here are some other adventures with you & best buddy Elmo…

On a walk with Elmo. We stopped by McDonald’s for lunch while we were out– notice the chicken nugget. 😉

Sharing your dinner with Elmo. You’re pretty good about sharing for a kid this age. Sometimes you like to trick us though, acting like you’re sharing & then snatch it away at the last second!

Showing Elmo how to use the bouncy seat. The truth is you’ve outgrown this thing & it  doesn’t really hold your interest anymore, but I’ve kept it out because sometimes I need a safe place to put you, where I know you’re not going anywhere!

Your other favorite toy these days is a little stuffed baby doll we all call “Baby,” but you pronounce it “Beebee.” Baby goes just about everywhere with us, too.


We bought you Baby as a way to teach you about babies, how to love & care for them, etc… because YOU ARE GOING TO BE A BIG BROTHER NEXT JANUARY!!! 😀 We are so excited and although I’m a little nervous about how you’re going to take not being the center of attention anymore, all in all I think you’ll love being a big brother. Especially since Baby Pacheco #2 is going to be a boy also, you guys will have a lot of fun together as you grow up. 🙂 Your little brother, Charlie, will be getting his own letters, although I’ve been horrible about keeping up with them so far as my life is much busier this pregnancy than it was during the last. Anyway, you & I had fun making this little pregnancy announcement:

Because in this day & age, nothing’s official until it’s posted on Facebook. Haha. This was originally going to be just one photo, but you were such a ham about it that I turned it into a little film strip sort of thing. Mothering a young toddler while going through the first trimester of pregnancy has been ROUGH, to say the least. Definitely exhausting. I’ll save those details for Charlie’s letter, though. Here’s some other fun stuff you’ve been up to this summer!

Your favorite song in all the world is “Old MacDonald,” and you don’t care who knows it. You burst into song– the part you sing is exclusively “E-I-E-I-O!!!” — all the time, and it’s one of the ways we can calm you down when you’re upset. Every toy you have that plays that song gets put to frequent use lately, and I even downloaded an app on my phone that plays it…. so now you either pick up my phone to shove it in my hand and say “EIEIO!” to get me to play the song or you hold it up to your ear and say “Hi!” 😉 So cute.

Speaking of farms, a couple weeks ago Papa, Grandma & I took you to a local farm-themed petting zoo/playground sort of place called “Blue Bird Gap Farm” while we were visiting family in Hampton. I grew up going to this place, but it was not nearly as nice when I was a kid as it is now! Apparently it was recently renovated. Anyway, you had a BLAST and especially enjoyed feeding the sheep. 🙂

Another thing you’re really into lately is playing dress-up with my & Dad’s clothes, shoes, etc. I tried to get a picture of you in Dad’s big work boots, but every time I put you in them you would try to walk around and immediately fall on your face. :-X

One hot Saturday morning, we went with some friends from our playgroup to a local splash park! You really enjoyed it, although it took you a little while to get comfortable in the new environment. This is pretty typical whenever we go to a place that has a lot of people, you stay close to me and survey the scene for a good 15 minutes or so before you’re willing to venture out and explore. Here’s an example from a playdate we had awhile back– this was you not long after we got there:

This type of shy behavior is pretty similar to Dad’s personality, but totally a foreign concept to me. I’ve always been pretty outgoing…. when I was a kid I walked up to random strangers and told them my life story, LOL. Anyway, I’ve been working on respecting this aspect of your personality & not pushing you to do more than you’re comfortable with. As it has with Dad, I know it will get easier for you with time. Like at a friend’s birthday party we went to recently, you were running all over the place within a few minutes. I took this picture of you & a couple of your friends squished into a truck after I’d pushed you guys around the yard for a few minutes. Y’all had so much fun together!

As I’ve mentioned in other letters, you have a truck just like this one that you love to “drive” around. You’re very much into cars/trucks/etc and love “driving” just about anything you can get your hands on:

Good times at the home improvement stores!

If only our regular grocery store had carts like this! 😉

You & your buddy Juju flying a plane at Clemyjontri park! That park was AWESOME, biggest play place we’ve been to yet! I love how so much of the entertainment in this area is free… even that splash park doesn’t charge an entrance fee!

And of course we’ve been out & about geocaching. 😉 Here’s the one we found near Clemyjontri park that same afternoon. We also rode the carousel while we were there… I loved that they have seatbelts on the animals! Ignore my dorky hiking shoes; I wore them because I knew we’d be geocaching. LOL

Sometimes the most random stuff CRACKS YOU UP. Here’s some other random fun we’ve had this summer:

Watching the Nats game with Dad. 🙂

Working on your “selfie” skills….

That’s better!

Hanging with your pal “Eee-eee” AKA Annie. This is about as close as the dogs let you get to them, unless there’s food involved.

Putting those new teeth to good use! 😉 You’re still a pretty good eater, but you’ve started to get picky lately. Hoping it’s a phase that passes quickly…

Swinging! 😀 Yes I squeezed my fat, pregnancy-bloated self into the swing. You’re never too old for swings, I say!

More silliness at the dinner table. You were cracking us up!

All in all it’s been a wonderful summer. I can’t believe how quickly it’s flown by so far! Despite the tantrums and such, this has still been my favorite age so far… you’re so much fun to hang out with these days! You are the number one reason I smile everyday. 🙂

All my love,





Dear Alex,

A small addendum to my recent update. I wanted to wait to write about this until it happened again & the feeling was fresh in my mind. This occurred last night.

My young toddler, barely beyond the brink of infancy, wakes in the middle of the night crying as though he’s lost his last friend in the world.
I go to check on him, and nothing appears outwardly wrong. A bad dream perhaps, or teething. Whatever it was, he quiets the moment I pick him up.
I kiss his forehead, hold him close to me and settle down into the rocking chair. He breathes a heavy sigh of relief and burrows into my embrace, facing me belly to belly with his cheek buried in my elbow. The way we’ve done a thousand times before.
But now he is so big that his feet hang past the side of my lap, just over the edge of the chair. Snuggly moments like this are so few and far between these days that, even though my bed is calling, I decide to sit with him for awhile.
I rub his back and lean my head sideways against the headrest so that I can relax while staring at that sweet face. Before long he’s back in Dreamland, the pacifier drooping at the edge of his lips.
As I start to follow him there, suddenly he reaches his little hand up unconsciously and touches my face, caressing my cheek and then resting his hand on my chest.

And there we stay, in the quiet abyss between awake and asleep, feeling one another’s heartbeat. It feels like forever. It feels like no time at all.
But more than anything else, it feels like peace.

Times like this remind me why I became a mother. The depth of this bond, this love, the way you need me and I need you more than anything or anyone else in the world, is unlike any other experience I’ve had in this life. I know I say this a lot in these letters, but it is truly a blessing.

All my love,