Big Kid, Big Problems

Dear Alex,

You’re in kindergarten now– a big boy in a big school, and even at over a month into the school year it still blows me away every single morning when I drop you off and you confidently march up to the door all by yourself. Your teacher tells me that you have adjusted very well, are well-behaved and are way ahead of most other kids in your class academically. That much isn’t a surprise to me; you’ve shown us time and time again over the years just how sweet and brilliant you are. How lucky I am to call you mine.

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What did surprise me for the first time this morning, though, was a new kind of problem I haven’t dealt with explicitly as a parent yet. You told me that you don’t like music class…. and when I asked why you said that you get “embarrassed” when you have to go up in front of the other kids to play instruments (apparently it’s not just you by yourself, you guys take turns going up to do these little performances in small groups).

“Embarrased?” I asked, knowing perfectly well what the word meant and what you were probably getting at, but I wanted to hear your thought process. “Embarrassed” is an emotion I’ve of course seen you feel before, but not a word I’ve ever actually heard you say.

“I don’t want the other kids watching me! What if they see me mess up?!” you say, with panic in your eyes that are starting to well up tears.

Oh, my sweet boy. I tell you that everyone messes up sometimes, and that it’s okay. That messing up is how we learn. That the other kids won’t care if you mess up, and if they do care then they aren’t worth your energy and thoughts. I tell you an anecdote about a time the skirt of my costume fell off during a dance recital performance, and how I finished the dance with no skirt on and got a big round of applause from the audience. I watch you giggle as I tell you to imagine me on stage with my skirt falling off next time you have to play an instrument in music class. When I ask if that helps you feel better you say yes, with a bit of hesitancy and uncertainty on your face. And so we move on with our morning.

But my mama heart still hurts. We’ve entered the point in your life where I can’t really help you anymore. Now you have these big, more mature feelings and problems.Β  I can talk to you until I’m blue in the face– giving you advice and encouragement, but at the end of the day I can’t just step in and solve your problems anymore. Instead, I have to step back and watch you solve them yourself.

And even though I know you are smart and strong and will do just fine in this great big world, it’s still such a hard thing for me to do. Plus it will only get harder as the years go by and your challenges continue to mount.

For today though, I hug & kiss you one more time… then watch you walk away through those big metal doors.

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All my love,
Mom

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FWEE!

Dear Charlie,

You poor thing– I am really not helping with this whole “middle child syndrome” thing. I meant to write your letter a couple days after I wrote Alex & Emma’s… then it just slipped my mind. For months. :-X I’m so sorry!

Last time I wrote, you were a few months shy of turning 3. Now you’re coming up on 3 1/2, and truth be told 3 has been a great year for you so far. Therefore, it’s been a great year for me & Dad, as your parents, so far as well. You’re still stubborn, strong, and fearless… but you have a fair bit more common sense and are more likely to listen to authority than you once were. Since we don’t have to keep our eyes on you 24/7 like we had to before, we’ve been able to breathe a bit, let you enjoy your independence (of which you have MUCH more than either of your siblings combined), and even take you out to do more fun things in the great big world. πŸ˜‰

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Your first year in preschool was a huge success. You adapted to it really well, your teachers adored you, and I think the experience played a huge role in your social/emotional development. We did have to end the school year a bit early since we moved out of state, but I think you’ll have no trouble picking back up where you left off when school starts again in the fall. I did observe that you didn’t seem to make any close friends in your class (at least not that you didn’t already know from outside of class). I think part of this is because you’re so independent & part of this is because Alex is so boisterous & outgoing that he usually does all the of the “social legwork” involved with making your friends outside of school. I will be curious to see how this skill evolves for you as time goes on.

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You’ve grown a ton in general, but honestly I think your heart has grown most of all. You’re very sweet, loving and thoughtful, especially with me, your brother, and Papa. All 3 of us hang the moon to you, as does our dog Annie (who lives with Papa & Grandma these days). Lately you’ve started to enjoy your sister’s company more often than not too, which honestly I was starting to think would never happen! However, I think I have Alex to thank for that. He adores Emma, and you want to be just like him.

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The only downside to age 3 with you, at least at the moment, is the SCREAMING. Your “fight or flight” mechanism is quick to kick in lately, and you escalate to a high pitched scream VERY quickly. We’re working on it though. Potty training has also been a struggle. You were more or less potty trained over Christmas break and things were great for a few months, but you’ve regressed in a big way since we moved to MD. It’s been frustrating, but things like this are normal for the age/circumstances & we’re trying our best to be patient.

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Your likes and dislikes have not changed much, although I’d say you’re more specifically into trucks & construction equipment than “cars” in general these days. That being said, Hot Wheels are your favorite toys to play with & they are scattered all over the house/car/my purse/etc. πŸ˜‰ You’ve also really taken to a show called Blippi on YouTube, which reminds me of a more modern and slightly less annoying version of Peewee Herman (which was popular when I was a kid). Cat is still a constant and necessary presence in our household, and you also love all things purple. It is very hard to find things cat & purple themed that aren’t specifically targeted at girls, which is frustrating. I recently very excited to find a non-girly purple t-ball glove (that even came with a purple t-ball!), only to discover that you’re probably going to need a left-handed glove. It’s still too soon to tell for sure, but you seem to prefer your left hand for most tasks. You are DESPERATE to play t-ball with your big bro, and I think when you’re finally old enough next year you’re going to be fantastic at it! You have a lot more hand-eye coordination than most kids your age.

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It is becoming increasingly evident how smart you are. I think you are different from Alex in that you’re both “book smart” and “street smart” — you seem to be more proficient at logical thought and problem-solving. You’re very independent and intent on doing things yourself. You’ve been quicker to start asking the “Why?” questions and you get pretty deep with them for a 3 year old (much to my dismay, LOL). It amazes me how much you are able to retain/remember. For example, I think you know more than me at this point about construction equipment. When we go to visit the construction site of our new house, you love pointing out and naming all the various equipment that’s on site. “Look Mom, a skid steer!” πŸ˜‰

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You are my biggest little helper, and are quick to volunteer to help with just about anything I’m doing. Almost as soon as walk in the kitchen to start cooking something, I hear the scrape of a stool being dragged across the floor behind me and have to jump aside so that you don’t plop the darn thing down on my feet. You’re so very helpful, in fact, that we once had this conversation at bedtime after I’d yelled at you for breaking some closet doors here in the apartment:

You: I’m sorry I broke the closet, mom.
Me: (Scooping youinto a tight hug) It’s okay, sweetie. Now you know to be more careful with the doors. I’m sorry I lost my temper with you.
You: (Leans out of the hug and looks at me with concern) You could borrow my temper, Mom!

You say & do unknowingly funny stuff like this all the time. Nine times out of ten you come shuffling into a room rather than just walking into it, waving your elbows like an old-timey stage act. You dance, run and jump big & sing very, very small. With your loved ones you talk up a storm but with strangers it’s hit or miss. At the pediatrician’s office the other day, you answered her questions so quietly that we were both inches from your face, straining to hear. A couple hours after that you were shouting to be heard over your brother when you were both trying to tell me & Dad a story at the same time.

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They say it’s easy to forget about the middle child, but despite my fail at your last letter I think you are anything but forgettable. Your spunk, your silly, your sweet make you easily stand out from the crowd in this house. You light up my world in ways neither your brother or your sister do quite the same. Thank you for being YOU, my sweet Charlie Bean! :-*

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All my love,
Mom

The Other Side

My beautiful babies —

There are few sort of “side note” letters about various topics I’m hoping to write for you as I have time, and now seems like a good occasion for one of them. Today, Alex & Charlie ran their first race with me. I chose this particular race not only because it was super kid-friendly (pumpkin decorating! cookies! face painting! moon bounce! rock climbing wall! LOL), but also because it was put on for a cause that has become very near & dear to my heart since I became a mother… postpartum mental illness. The beautiful mother who this race is in honor of tragically lost her battle with this illness, leaving behind her husband and three young children. I was especially touched by her story because, frankly, that could have easily been me.

Postpartum depression, anxiety, and/or psychosis (for the sake of my typing fingers I’m going to say PPD from this point out) affects 1 in 5 new mothers as of when I’m writing this letter (I hope & pray the statistics are better by the time you read this). There are a number of factors involved in how & why this happens (physical as well as environmental), but I believe that the extraordinary pressure women of my generation, especially mothers, put on themselves to “have it all” and do everything Pinterest-perfectly by the book is a huge factor. The ridiculous lack of postpartum support in this country has a lot to do with it too. But the fact is that PPD can happen to any new mother within the first few years of their child’s life, no matter what their circumstances are. I think I’m a pretty good example of that.

PPD nearly broke me. Well, the truth is that is DID break me– several times really, starting from when Alex was a newborn. It began as mood swings and anxiety, which I chalked up to hormones and exhaustion. Over time it became more severe. I was crying all day and awake with anxious thoughts all night. I kept telling myself that I needed to “snap out of it,” that this is how parenthood was and I was being weak. Those thoughts eventually lead to me thinking that I wasn’t fit to be a mother. That you three deserved better. That you would be better off without me. You can probably imagine where those sorts of thoughts lead to. 😦

I am blessed to have Dad, who saw what was happening & helped me put the pieces back together every time I fell apart. He is the one who dealt with me in my darkest days and weakest moments, even when that meant that I treated him poorly, or I was too broken to function through normal daily life. He is the one who wrestled the phone from my hands so that he could call the suicide prevention hotline while I sobbed and begged him not to because “I’m NOT crazy!” and I was convinced that such a phone call would brand me with that label, get me “drugged up,” separated from my babies or worse. He is the one who was eventually able to push me into seeking help from my doctors, friends and family. And of course, he is the one who has been an amazing partner and father to you three from the moment I showed him our first positive pregnancy test. And with each new baby he’s gotten more & more awesome at it.

I am blessed to have your grandparents, who did not hesitate to help when I finally started to ask for it. It took me awhile to get to that point because the anxiety made me feel like I needed to do everything myself, even though that mentality was drowning me. We’ve since set up a system of regular support in the form of your monthly grandparent visits– raising you three without any family or close friends to rely on nearby makes dealing with PPD that much more difficult, and frankly those regular stretches of time alone to “recharge” have become key to my sanity.

I am blessed with a multitude of “mom friends,” both online and locally, who understand my situation and are always available for words of advice, support, and empathy… when I have the courage to reach out to them. I didn’t for a long time, you see, because I didn’t want to look weak. I didn’t want to appear “abnormal” or “less-than” and ESPECIALLY not “crazy.” So for a long time, only a few people knew I had PPD, and even fewer knew the full depths of what exactly I was going through. With time and many conversations with these friends I’ve come to learn, as I mentioned before, that PPD is a lot more common than most realize. I’m not alone in this fight, and that knowledge in & of itself has put me in a much better place.

I am blessed to have access to medical care, although it did take a great deal of phone calls and independent research to figure out what I needed and where to go to get it, which is unfortunate to say the least. And I didn’t even get to the point of admitting that I needed that kind of help until Charlie was over 6 months old, so by the time I finally started receiving medical care for my PPD it had gone untreated for almost 2 years. Nevertheless, I still consider myself more fortunate than many others in my situation.

Even with all that, I broke time & time again. It’s still a very precarious balance, a fight against the darkness that even now is always in the forefront of my mind. And even when I’m past this “baby stage,” past the hardest part as far as PPD goes, I think it will always be at least a small part of who I am.

So why am I telling you all this? Why did I want to write you a separate letter about it? Well, above all else it’s because these letters are part of our family’s story. I promised in the beginning to share with you how raising you was from my perspective, and this is a big part of it… even though it’s not sunshine & rainbows & cute baby pictures. I also wanted to tell you about my PPD experience because if you ever become parents yourselves someday, I want you to know that this is something that can happen, and it’s not such a crazy, weird thing. It doesn’t make you a bad parent. And should this happen to you or someone you love some day, I hope this letter can help you recognize it for what it is, and seek help accordingly.

I also wanted to use this letter as an opportunity to let you guys know that it had nothing to do with you and everything to do with me, my body, and my particular set of circumstances. And above all else, I have no regrets as far as becoming a parent goes. I’d go through it all again in a heartbeat to have you three. I know I say this in my letters a lot, but you guys truly are the lights of my life. Despite its challenges, I have no doubt that I was put on this planet to be your mother. And I thank God everyday for it.

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

Snips, Snails, and Potty Training Fails

Dear Charlie,

The “terrible two’s” are upon us! But who are we kidding really, I think that phase started a bit early with you. πŸ˜‰ Nevertheless, 2 years old is a big milestone and you’ve made lots of developmental leaps in the last couple months!

For one thing, you are talking SO much more, although it can be hard for people who don’t know you well to understand you. Here are just some of your more common words/phrases (and translations, where necessary):

  • Ball (and several variations for football, basketball, etc.)
  • Mum = Mom
  • Dat/Dah-dee = Dad/Daddy
  • Bubba (Alex)
  • Uh-nee = Annie
  • Up
  • Esssssssssss = Yes (we like to joke that you sound like you’re speaking parseltongue when you say this)
  • Uh uh = No (you only actually say/scream “NO!!!” when you’re really pissed off)
  • Mine (easily your most frequently used word right now. LOL)
  • Peez = Please
  • Want
  • Uh oh
  • Foo-t = Food
  • Poo = Spoon
  • Boon = Balloon
  • Buh-lalalala = Banana
  • Mo = More (which you also always sign as well)
  • Keys = Kiss
  • Go
  • Ah-eh-see = Medicine

I could go on, there are lots more…. that’s just off the top of my head. You are putting together 2-3 and sometimes even 4 word sentences, as well as singing/humming various tunes and making lots of different animal sounds (your favorites are dinosaur/lion/tiger = ROAR! and monkey = ah ah ee ee). You love trying to sing along to music and you also love watching/listening to me sing to you. After I finish a song you always sign/ask for more. Same goes for reading books– I was starting to wonder if you’d ever have the patience/interest in sitting down to read a whole book, but now you love it and ask us to read you books all the time. πŸ™‚

You of course still love to do anything your big brother is doing, which has led to a lot of development in your gross and fine motor skills. I’m particularly impressed with your ability to use “big boy” legos already (although you still like to put things in your mouth from time to time, so we only let you do that under close supervision).

But you’re also fearless and an amazing problem-solver, which has led to a lot of development I wasn’t expecting quite yet (like being able to climb the bunk beds, as I mentioned in my last letter)… and getting into LOTS Β of trouble. Just a few nights ago you managed to sneak into the downstairs bathroom, flood the sink and get water ALLLLL over the floor. Lord help me! You make up for it with lots of sweetness. You’re very affectionate, full of smiles and giggles, and are never one to turn down a high five from just about anybody. Thanks to molars coming in, you’ve been a little extra clingy lately. You’re also more into Daddy than Alex was at this age, but you adore everyone in the immediate family really… especially Annie.

I do wonder what you’ll think of your baby sister after she arrives. You don’t seem to get super jealous when other kids/babies are around, but you don’t seem particularly fond of babies either. You’re also not very gentle or sensitive like Alex. Right now I’m pretty sure you just think I’m hiding a ball under my shirt. Boy are you in for a surprise! LOL.

Speaking of babies, you’ve been starting to abandon some of the staples of “babyhood” — namely pacifiers, as you started biting/chewing on them so we had to cut you off cold turkey. It was not pretty, but is getting better. You can use utensils pretty well for your age and have even started using real/non-sippy cups at most meals. You’ve also started to show interest in using the potty and having an idea of when you need to go… but when we decided to try putting you in undies and actually potty training you, it was a spectacular fail. I think giving up the paci and diapers that close together was a bit too much. I don’t think we’ll worry about it anymore until well after Emma arrives, unless you specifically request otherwise.

But like I said before, this really has been a huge year of growth and development for you! I was especially blown away to see it in black & white (so to speak) when I put together your birthday slideshow:

I feel like the switch from baby to toddler has somehow been less gradual with you. It’s like a switch flipped and all of a sudden babyhood was over. Although I do miss your baby phase– you were the sweetest, cutest baby– and your toddlerhood has certainly been more challenging… there’s a lot about it I’m really enjoying. Watching you (and all my kids, really) discover new things is the best feeling. As is watching your relationship with your brother grow. You guys still fight over toys and such quite a bit, but are getting along more & more everyday and are starting to really enjoy playing WITH each other rather than just being in one another’s presence (if that makes sense). Most recently the space under Alex’s bed has been dubbed “The Batcave,” with him being Batman and you being Robin. πŸ˜‰ Super cute.

This last picture is from the moment Alex gave you the Christmas present he picked out for you– a Paw Patrol ball. It is the first time I’ve ever heard you clearly say “Thank you,” unprompted no less! πŸ™‚

I’m starting to ramble, so I’d better wrap this up. All in all it’s been an amazing year, despite the ups & downs, and I feel so blessed to be your mom. I can’t wait to see what the coming year brings! We love you so much, little Charlie Bean. πŸ™‚ (And yes, I think your nickname will probably be Bean/Beanie for life. Sorry dear.)

All my love,
Mom

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. πŸ˜‰ 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! πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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…Β I do think heΒ is starting to at least understand what babies ARE, which is a start! πŸ˜‰ I’ll be very interested to see Charlie’sΒ 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. πŸ˜‰ Being a parent is all about keeping your mind open and your heart full, the latter of which is pretty easy to do with ourΒ three little blessings! ❀ Until next time, sweet Emma Jean. We love you so very much already!

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All my love,
Mom

 

Uh-oh!

Dear Charlie,

You’re 18 months old now, which is the time I noticed leaps and bounds of development in Alex… and so far you’re proving to be no different! You’re all caught up on gross + fine motor skills, perhaps even ahead of where I’d expect you to be, and you’re quickly catching up with talking as well. We still have monthly therapy sessions, but switched to someone who specializes in just speech therapy since that’s the only area you really need help with anymore. You walk and run (let’s be real– you practically skipped walking and went straight to running. LOL), climb stairs and even some ladders like a big boy, and are starting to try to jump!

You can throw a ball overhand as well as underhand with a surprising amount of accuracy, and are starting to work on catching a bit as well. Dad & I call you our little athlete because you have SO much energy, are constantly on the move, and have a passion for all things involving balls. In fact, although your vocabulary is still relatively small you know how to say “football,” “basketball” and of course “baseball.” Your first sentence was “Get my ball!” because you love throwing it places that you can’t reach (like in the fireplace, under a dresser, in the back seat of the car… etc etc etc). You know all our names as well as “more,” “all done,” and your favorite word of all– “Uh-oh!” πŸ™‚

Naturally you understand a lot more than you are able to say at this point, so I’m able to give you basic instructions and know that you get what I’m saying (even if you choose not to follow said instructions, LOL). You are definitely very stubborn and strong-willed, and do not take no for an answer. It seems that you are drawn to all things messy, dangerous or generally inconvenient, so you end up getting into a LOT of mischief. You’re also quite dramatic and throw VERY dramatic tantrums, which including throwing yourself down on the floor head first, even if it’s concrete. :-/

All this combined with the fact that this is just a difficult age in general for discipline, makes life very challenging for us right now. I’m hoping (praying!) it gets better with time as you get better at communicating and expressing yourself. I know all this sounds pretty negative…. and indeed I’d be lying if I said life with you is easy these days. πŸ˜‰ But I’ve been a parent long enough to know that all phases with kids come and go, which includes the less-than-stellar phases like this one. So when things get tough, I repeat my favorite mommy mantra: “This too shall pass!”

You are also pretty darn adorable much of the time as well. Despite all your hijinks, it’s hard to stay mad at you for very long because your smile and giggle melt all of our hearts. You have Dad and I wrapped around your finger, which is probably the biggest contributing factor to the mischief. You are so sweet and loving most of the time– you are very generous with hugs and sloppy kisses. πŸ™‚ And as Dad likes to say, you’re a sucker for a high-five!

In addition to balls, your favorite things are cars, animals (especially our dog Annie, who thankfully tolerates your increasingly annoying advances), music, and phones/remotes. You like playing pretend and dress-up with Alex, especially wearing hats or glasses, and participating as best you can in Alex’s frequent “ninja fights.” You just adore Alex in general, and want to be doing everything he’s doing (although the feeling is not always mutual πŸ˜‰ ).

And I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention– FOOD! Alex is a big eater, but you can put away a surprising amount of food as well. Many of the words you have are food related words, such as apple, banana and berry. You ask for more food almost constantly! Lucky for you quite a few new teeth have come in recently, including some molars, which has expanded your culinary horizons quite a bit. πŸ™‚

As far as your health goes things have gotten much better as we moved out of cold/flu season, but we have still had many problems with your ears/tubes. The tubes actually got clogged and your ENT said that we might have to replace them, but thankfully we were able to avoid that but flushing them with a water/vinegar mixture for a couple weeks. This was easier said than done because the flushing was very uncomfortable for you. Holding down a thrashing/screaming toddler while you flush their ears for a few minutes 2-3 times a day is physically and emotionally exhausting. I still have quite a few bruises and scratches from the ordeal…. but I’m so glad it worked because undergoing another surgery would have been much worse.

Recently we moved you out of the crib and into a big boy bed, where you share a room with your big brother! You’re loving it and overall doing a lot better than I thought you would , although the transition/training process took a lot more trial and error than it did with Alex… and we really had to step up our toddler-proofing game in your/Alex’s room. Oy!

All in all it’s been a very crazy, busy, eventful few months. That said, it’s also been so amazing to see all the rapid growth and development you’re undergoing. It seems like just yesterday we brought you home from the hospital, our sweet little baby, and now you’re very much a little boy.


(Your first movie– The Secret Life of Pets!)

If anyone ever embodied the boy stereotype of “snakes, snails and puppy dog tails,” it’s you! But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think you and Alex balance each other out well, and will be able to learn a lot from one another in the years to come. And there’s never, ever a dull moment in the Pacheco house these days! πŸ˜‰

All my love,
Mom