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.
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. 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.
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. 😉
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.
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.
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.
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. 😉 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.
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!” 😉
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.
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! :-*
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.
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. 🙂
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. 😉 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. 🙂 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. 🙂
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.
We call you Emma Jean, Baby Queen because it’s your world & we’re just living in it. 😉 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.
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!
The “terrible two’s” are upon us! But who are we kidding really, I think that phase started a bit early with you. 😉 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
Uh-nee = Annie
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
Foo-t = Food
Poo = Spoon
Boon = Balloon
Buh-lalalala = Banana
Mo = More (which you also always sign as well)
Keys = Kiss
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. 🙂
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 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. 😉 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! 🙂
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. 🙂 (And yes, I think your nickname will probably be Bean/Beanie for life. Sorry dear.)
23 weeks! When I last wrote you we were just coming out of first trimester, and here we are on the brink of wrapping up the second. You’re as big as an eggplant now! So much has happened in the last 10 weeks, but at the same time it’s been relatively smooth as far as pregnancies go. I still get waves of nausea from time to time, but they are thankfully few and far between (mostly if I let myself get too hungry). The “venous lake” which was of concern when I last wrote was fully resolved within a couple of months, and your 20 week anatomy scan went without incident…. except it took 3 separate visits for the tech to get pictures of all your body parts because you were so stubborn! So we were actually given the all-clear earlier this week. Here are a couple of my favorite ultrasound shots:
The classic “skeletor” shot!
This side-profile shot was the one holdout that it took us three tries to get! Thankfully we were eventually able to confirm that you do, indeed, have a nose. 😉 If I had to guess based on ultrasounds so far, I think you’re going to look more like Alex (and therefore Dad). Time will tell, of course!
The only other thing worth noting is that is took me a bit longer to start feeling your movements, because I have an “anterior placenta” (my placenta is in front instead of the back of my uterus). This past week or so, though, you’ve been off to the races! I feel you move throughout the day now. At this last ultrasound a couple days ago, you even kicked the wand in protest. You are one feisty and stubborn gal! I guess the apple truly does not fall far from the tree.
I’m still tired all the time, but luckily I’m close to the point where I’ll be working from home the rest of the pregnancy…. which is a HUGE help. What hasn’t helped lately is all the illness we’ve been passing back & forth around our house. Being sick while pregnant (and unable to take many meds) is the pits. With two germ-factory toddlers in the house, I think I’m in for a long cold/flu season. But that’s okay. Thank goodness for grandparents! I’m rapidly approaching that point where I’m going to be uncomfortable and exhausted regardless, as you’re growing like a weed in there now…
Alas, I’m not as on the ball with taking bump pictures this go-round (and just not on the ball in general, as you’ve probably guessed due to my infrequent letters). But be assured that we are thinking of you and planning for arrival every day! 🙂 Your nursery has actually been done for quite awhile now, but I haven’t taken any nice pictures of it yet because I’m still slowly working on getting all your clothes put away (between myself and the grandmothers, I’ve accumulated quite a bit already– you’ll be one well-dressed little lady!). I’ll try to take some good pictures in time for your next letter. Here’s a preview though– it’s dance-themed with LOTS of pink. 🙂
As you can see, Alex is my little helper and is already a fantastic big brother for you– he helped me pick out things for your nursery, and is always asking me to buy you various clothes, toys, etc. at the store. He talks to you in my tummy and gives you plenty of hugs + kisses. Apparently at school, Alex’s teachers and classmates know all about his baby sister but none of them have any idea that he has a younger brother also (until I happen to mention it!). Charlie is still pretty clueless, as evidenced below… I do think he is starting to at least understand what babies ARE, which is a start! 😉 I’ll be very interested to see Charlie’s reaction to you when the time comes.
I suppose that is pretty much it for now…. we are incredibly thankful that things have been more or less uneventful and that we feel as “ready” for you as we’ll ever be. That’s the benefit of being the third baby, I suppose! Dad & I are old hats at this now… and when I say that I don’t mean that we’re experts in anything, but that we know well enough to not worry about things so much and just have faith in the process. 😉 Being a parent is all about keeping your mind open and your heart full, the latter of which is pretty easy to do with our three little blessings! ❤ Until next time, sweet Emma Jean. We love you so very much already!
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!” 🙂
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. 😉 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. 🙂 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 😉 ).
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. 🙂
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! 😉
WOW, how quickly the last 6 months have flown by! I’m sorry it’s been so long since I wrote you last– things have been crazy around here. I don’t want to waste space in this letter on that though, so I’ll just direct you to Charlie’s latest letter here on why finding the time & energy to write letters has been tough for me lately. You went through an especially rough period where you were not sleeping much at ALL. Seriously, averaging maybe 5-6 hours of sleep per night when you’re supposed to be getting a good 10-12. We tried all sorts of things, and it even got to the point where you pediatrician suggested sending you in for a sleep study, when finally three months later I tried removing the night light next to your bed…. and that did the trick! I couldn’t believe such a simple thing was the problem. And maybe it was a coincidence, but I didn’t care. As long as we were all getting sleep again, that’s what mattered. So, things are better now! Spring is here and hopefully that means we’ll all be healthy for more than five seconds at a time. 😉 Anyway, enough about that…
You are THREE! Before I started writing this, I read the last letter I wrote you to get an idea of how much has changed since then. The answer? A LOT! The headliner being that you are potty trained! 😀
One day in November you just decided you wanted to wear underwear, and that was that. The first few days you had maybe 5 or 6 accidents, and then you were off to the races. We had a brief regression in January (for reasons unknown), but other than that you’ve been day time potty trained ever since. Woohoo! I’m not too worried about night training at this point– you’ve been sick a lot this winter so we’ve allowed you to keep a bottle of honeyed water with you at night to help coughing/sore throat/etc., and honestly I don’t see the point in attempting to night train until we can take that away and you wake up consistently dry in the mornings.
The other big (and very recent) change is that you started preschool about a month ago!
Dad & I had been debating for quite awhile on when or if we wanted you to start preschool… you had a lot of big changes in your life last year with becoming a big brother and all, so we didn’t want to force much else on you at the time. But now that we’re all settled into life as a family of four, and you were showing signs of being ready for the challenge, we decided the time was right. You are amazingly smart for your age– I know I’ve said this many times but it really is true– and so we really think preschool is a better fit for you now. You know all your ABC’s, both upper and lower case, and know how many of the letters sound. You know how to spell and write your name, and can recognize the names of all four of your family members on sight. You know numbers up to 20 as well, as well as shapes, colors etc. (that’s nothing new actually). You know lots of other things too, and are a quick learner. Your most recent obsession is art– you LOVE to draw, color and paint. And honestly you’re pretty good, although all you really like to color or draw is Ninja Turtles (Sesame Street is old news, you’ve moved on to Paw Patrol and Ninja Turtles now ;-).
So although you were more than ready academically, emotionally the transition has been a challenge for you. The first day was great– you went in and started playing without any tears… but I think that’s because you didn’t realize I’d be leaving. Every day for the next few weeks after that, you’ve cried at the mere mention of school, saying that “it’s scary!” 😦 Honestly I was expecting this because you can be a very shy kid and have had some issues with social anxiety, so going into a new & unfamiliar situation with no one you know has been tough for you. But it’s getting better! Your teachers have all been really sweet and understanding. The last couple of days you haven’t cried, and I think the day will come soon enough when you actually look forward to going to school.
All in all though– some really big changes! You are all boy now, the baby days are far behind you. Sometimes that makes me feel a little sad, but overall I’m extremely happy and proud of the little boy you’ve grown into. We have so much fun together. You have the sweetest personality– very thoughtful, caring, and funny. You love to make people smile & laugh. And no matter how big you get, you’ll always be my snuggle bunny! 🙂
And with that, I think I’ll let the pictures and videos tell the rest of the story…
[NOTE: I started this on April 10, but never got a chance to come back and add more pics/videos. Mom fail! I’ll put those in my next letter.]
All in all, it’s been an awesome and eventful year for you. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time flies as a parent. I love putting together these recap videos of the year because SO MUCH changes in a year when you have little ones. There are lots of ups and downs, but I would not trade a second of it. You have no idea how blessed I feel to be your mom. 🙂
YOU ARE ONE! A toddler! I can’t believe how fast time is flying by.
As you can see, I totally failed at getting those last couple monthly letters in… there has been a lot going on, and frankly I’ve just felt so overwhelmed with life these last few months. We’ve had the holidays, your ear surgery, therapy sessions, almost constant illness from at least one member of the family at any given moment (you’ve had your second ER trip for croup since I last wrote– ugh!), Alex having some pretty severe sleep issues, birthdays, and of course the usual demands of my life as a working mom of two little boys. I’m not going to lie, it’s HARD. Between the four of us someone is always awake, someone is always crying, someone always needs help with something, someone is always hungry, someone always needs my attention… you get the idea. Don’t get me wrong– Dad is great with helping out with you guys and around the house but you & Alex are both very much mama’s boys. 😉 It’s a blessing and a curse, to be sure.
You’re sleeping much better these days, but there are still times here and there where you insist on sleeping in my arms and/or directly on my face. Alex is the same way from time to time, actually more often than you are. This picture was taken around 11:30pm on one of those nights, when I had pretty much given up all hope of either of us sleeping:
I think I’ve hinted at this here and there in some of my letters to you and Alex, but I also struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety. The severity of it ebbs and flows, but it really has come to a head in the last few months and a lot of things have had to take a back seat to my mental health. Finding balance and taking better care of myself has been a priority, so that I can be a better mom for you & Alex. It’s a constant struggle and the variables are always changing as you boys grow and our life circumstances change, but things are getting better and I’m hopeful that this continues to be a positive trend. You might wonder why I’m telling you all this– in addition to explaining the major delay in my writing, I want these letters to be an open and honest depiction of our life together and our experience with parenthood, so that if/when you have children someday you’ll be able to read this and perhaps relate some of what Dad & I are going through to your own experience.
But ENOUGH about me– I want to talk about you, sweet Charlie-bean! 🙂 When I last left off you were a few days away from ear tube surgery. The surgery itself went very smoothly, and although I was admittedly quite worried about it. Watching you go “under” with the anesthesia was pretty emotional, but thankfully you did not struggle with it the way many kids do. By the time they took me back to the waiting room and I opened my email, the doctor was out to let me know if was over! They had said it would be quick, but just HOW quick really surprised me. You were awake when I got back to the recovery area, understandably confused and upset from the morning’s events. Once we got you calmed down we went back home and you were more or less back to normal by the next day. Since then you actually have still managed to get two more ear infections, but they are not nearly as severe as they were before tubes…. a little bit of ibuprofen + some Rx ear drops and you’re good to go.
Speaking of things that are painful– TEETH! You have four chompers currently and are working on several more. You recently had your first dental checkup, which at this age isn’t much of anything other than a quick tooth brushing and a peek inside your mouth. You were a little squirmy/fussy but Alex was right by your side to hold your hand. 😉
Not my best picture– for a formula fed baby, you sure love to stick your hands down my shirt!– but it does show off your teeth really well. 🙂 You might also notice in that picture that you got your first haircut recently!
You were a bit squirmy, but didn’t fuss too much. We got lucky and the lady who cut Alex’s hair for the first time, Amina, happened to be there (despite being in a new location!). I think the cut made a HUGE difference in your look. You’re such a little boy now! A lot of people say you look much more like Alex now, but I still think the two of you look totally different. At the time I was worried that would be the last we’d see if your curls, but they are definitely growing back in. We got that hair cut done right before your first birthday party… so actually you’re about due for another trim soon!
Speaking of your birthday party, let’s talk about the whirlwind of the holidays, which for us also includes birthday season. Christmas was great– I really enjoyed spending Christmas Eve/Day at home with just the four of us. It was much more relaxed. You were naturally more into the wrapping paper than anything else on Christmas morning, but once that was cleaned up I think your favorite toys from Santa were
(1) the “house” as Alex calls it…
(2) the dancing robot….
and (3) the light-up/musical Sesame Street “phone,” which is now a must for getting through long car rides!
As you can see, there’s no such thing as “mine” & “yours” when you have a sibling– you love Alex’s toys and he loves yours too. He is starting to get annoyed when you try to take something from him, but isn’t a complete jerk about it (yet). You’ve also fallen in love with an oldie but goodie from when Alex was this age– the ball popper. You really love any and all balls. We had to designate a basket in the playroom just for balls and you go right for it. In addition to the ball popper, you really enjoy the balls that sing and light up when you roll them around. You like to roll/toss balls back & forth with us, put them up on shelves or in/out of baskets. Maybe you will be our sports star someday!
Look ma, no hands! You are cruising like a champ, pushing your walker toys all over the place, standing independently for increasing lengths of time and even taking a few steps here & there. 🙂 In true Charlie fashion (you are a major daredevil), you gave me a heart attack by deciding to take your first steps in the bathtub. Oy! But I digress. So after Christmas came your birthday… but we had to postpone the party due to a MAJOR snow storm rolling through on your birthday. We got 3 feet of snow and you did not like it very much:
But you did enjoy the makeshift birthday cookie I came up with later that evening. 🙂
We also did a “cake smash” photo session for our last milestone photos with Miss Jeni. You had no qualms about digging into the cake!
And when Cake, Round 2 finally came at your & Alex’s birthday party a few weeks later, you were VERY sad when it was time to take the cake away & get you cleaned up. LOL!
Not gonna lie, you cry a lot these days. But when I say “a lot” I really mean that relatively speaking, as I think you are still overall a very easy and happy baby (now that the ear issues are cleared up). I think it’s just that in this 1-2 year stage, young toddlers want to communicate a lot more than they’re able to, and get frustrated when they can’t form the words to express the big emotions they’re feeling. You especially, since you’re a bit behind on language development. You do have some words (in order of frequency– Mama, Bubba, Ball, More, Dada, Annie. The first two are the only ones you say on a daily basis) and you’ve caught up to the point where Alex was at this age, so I’m not too worried. We had weekly therapy for awhile, which covered language development as well as fine + gross motor skills, but now we’re down to monthly therapy sessions. Your therapist, Miss Sammi, and I are confident that you’re well on your way to being a healthy, busy, on-track little toddler. 🙂
Other than ALL THAT, we’ve just been living the dream. 😉 I’ll let pictures and videos tell the rest of the story…
You are undoubtedly a morning person… even when the cup is empty. 😉
We read together quite a bit, but all in all you aren’t as into books as Alex is. I think you’d rather be rolling a ball across the room! That being said, your favorite books are the ones that make noise & our “slide & see” books.
Looking dapper with some baby friends at our baby/toddler New Year’s Eve party!
We love our baby friends, and our dad friends too. 🙂
Being pulled around in the snow and making unsuccessful snow angels was about all you could do in the blizzard this year… hopefully you can enjoy the snow more next year!
A chip off the old block– our family is full of handy men. 🙂
When you caught Alex hiding in the dress up box one day, you both thought it was HILARIOUS.
But Alex can’t always fool you! You knew this was no ninja turtle.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Alex made this at school and you enjoyed wearing it. You now understand that hats & glasses go on your head & will try to put them there yourself. Hell hath no fury like you when someone tries to put hats/glasses on for you!
You LOVE to eat…. but at the same time you’re ridiculously picky! It’s funny, when Alex was this age he’d eat just about anything we put in front of him… but not you! Although you’re a bit more likely to be adventurous when you eat directly from my plate, for the most part you only want to eat fruit, cereal/crackers, green beans, yogurt, meatballs, bread, pizza, and pureed food pouches. Anything else gets an “ew” face and thrown in the floor within seconds after it first graces your lips. :-\ This frustrates me to no end, but Annie LOVES it:
You & Annie are best buddies in general! When she’s inside you love chasing her and petting her fur… we are working on how to be gentle with varying degrees of success. Thankfully Annie is very tolerant of your shenanigans. I imagine this is because you’re good for a snack at least a couple times a day. 😉 She likes to give you “kisses” and you seem pretty tolerant of that too.
Of course, there’s no doubt as to who your best friend truly is! 🙂 Like I said before, other than the occasional squabble over toys, you boys absolutely adore each other. It’s so cute!
Boy, am I glad to be done with those monthly pictures! The last few months are always darn near impossible to get. :-\
And with that I think we’re pretty much all caught up! The last few months haven’t been easy, but I have to say that I wouldn’t trade a second of it. Charlie, you really are an irreplacable part of this family. Every single day you make us all smile & laugh, and your sunny personality is infectious. You are the perfect fit into this crazy little family puzzle, and I am truly blessed to be your mom. 🙂 As with Alex I doubt the letters will be monthly anymore– I shoot for quarterly now, but with the two toddlers on the loose I don’t foresee myself having a whole lot of free time for the next couple of years. LOL! But I’ll try my best. Until next time, sweet Charlie bean!
I am late on your letter as usual… it’s been a really crazy/rough 6 weeks. So much has been going on that I don’t know where to begin. You might be wondering about the title of this letter– to give you some background, your brother had chronic ear infections that started when he was around 10 months and continued until he was about 18 months. As a result, I’ve gotten pretty well-versed on all things related to infant/toddler ear health. So about 6 weeks ago, when you started waking up crying several times a night, multiple nights in a row, and not even Motrin was helping, I strongly suspected an ear infection was to blame and took you to the doctor. They confirmed my suspicions and prescribed an antibiotic, but told me to not give it to you unless you got a fever. So we endured another 5 horrible nights and then the fever came. In hindsight, I wish I had went ahead and started the antibiotic while the infection was still mild. Maybe we wouldn’t have gone through the rest of the story I’m about to tell you…
The fever broke within a couple days of being on antibiotics, but you never really returned 100% to your normal self and were still having a really hard time sleeping (which is hugely out of character for you– typically you sleep soundly from 6:30pm-6:30am without a peep). So, I knew the infection had not cleared up and took you back to the doctor, who again confirmed my suspicions. They prescribed a stronger antibiotic and I left feeling hopeful (as this second antibiotic was always the one that worked for Alex), but worried because that weekend you were going to visit your grandparents without me for several days. The thought that you might be sick or uncomfortable in any way without me nearby to comfort you made me sick to my stomach… but the plans could not be undone at that point so I had to just hope for the best. You did better while on that antibiotic, but things went downhill as soon as you finished it. So back to the pediatrician we went only to find that now BOTH ears were infected (rather than just the one infected ear you started with), they prescribed an even stronger antibiotic and sent us on our way. Just a few days ago we finished that most recent round and checked back in with the doctor… and your ears are STILL infected. So, she gave us an ENT referral & we were luckily able to go see him the next day. After talking about the options, we agreed that it was better to go the more aggressive route given your developmental delays (I’ll talk about that next) and go ahead with putting tubes in your ears.
So that’s where things stand with your ears for now. Your surgery is scheduled for this coming Monday– 3 days from today. It’s a relatively minor outpatient procedure that only takes about 5 minutes to do & we shouldn’t be at the hospital more than an hour or two from start to finish, but it is indeed surgery and they do have to put you under general anesthesia…. definitely a big deal for such a little guy. SURGERY is a word that no mother ever wants to hear in relation to her kids, regardless of the circumstances. It is heartbreaking and terrifying. I’ll be honest, I haven’t slept very well since we got the ENT referral and the word SURGERY just keeps popping into my head. But, I am hopeful that this will lead to relief– finally! – from all these ear infections and we can resume life as normal.
And since you’ll be able to hear much better (right now the doctor says it’s akin to listening to something while under water), we are hopeful that it will help you start to catch up developmentally. To back track a bit, at your 9 month checkup you were physically fine, but the doctor expressed some concern that you hadn’t met enough of the milestones for communication and gross motor skills to be on par with other babies your age. He said that you were right on the border of needing therapy/intervention to help, but said it was okay to wait until your 12 month appointment to see if you’d catch up on your own.
However, after doing some research I discovered that it is free to have our local Early Intervention (EI) department come out to evaluate you and let us know whether they think further assistance is needed to catch you up. Two therapists & a social worker came out to do the evaluation, and I’m glad they did. You had actually caught up a great deal on your gross motor skills while you were gone for Thanksgiving, but still rated pretty low in the other categories they looked at — (1) communication, (2) fine motor, and (3) social/emotional. I was expecting (1) since you don’t really have any words yet except “mama” on occasion (usually when you’re upset), nor do you really communicate much in a nonverbal manner such as waving…. but (2) and (3) were surprises to me. They were mainly concerned that you would not hold onto things for very long, imitate others, look at yourself in the mirror, or make a lot of eye contact with others. That being said, you honestly do those things a lot with us at home, and I suspect that you just weren’t into some of the activities they were trying to get you to do. Despite this, I agreed to their recommendation of weekly therapy sessions because it is relatively low-cost and it never hurts to get a little extra help. I just spoke with your assigned therapist today, and your first session will be next Wednesday (yes, just 2 days after your surgery… we’re optimistic that you’ll be feeling better by then as the recovery time is usually just one day or so).
Other than all THAT, haha, we’ve just been enjoying life and spending lots of quality family time together, especially with the holiday season going on. As I mentioned earlier, you went to visit your grandparents the week of Thanksgiving, and had a wonderful time with them + your cousins! While you were there, you learned how to “properly” crawl, pull up to stand, climb stairs and even cruise a little bit.
You really enjoyed your first Thanksgiving meal too!
Apparently you got the memo that most people wake up early on Black Friday. Or maybe your ears were bothering you. Either way, you ended up in bed with us at 5am the next morning…
Since we’ve been home, we’ve been enjoying lots of Christmas festivities as well!
You got to put up your first Christmas ornaments, then took a nap while the rest of us decorated the tree. You got up just in time to help me finish!
We’ve been busy making Christmas cookies (which you weren’t that into but enjoyed the fruits of my labor, LOL), going to fun holiday events around the area such as ZooLights, and opening up little gifts on our advent calendar. Each night you guys get a small gift which is usually a Christmas/winter-themed book or activity (like the felt tree in the picture above). Right now I think your favorite two books have been “That’s Not My Snowman” which is a touchy-feely book, and “Jingle Jingle Little Reindeer” which has a little reindeer finger puppet built into it. And of course, we can’t be ready for Christmas without a quick chat with THIS guy…
Santa! Your first Santa experience was very positive. You did not mind sitting in his lap at all, and enjoyed grabbing his nose & beard. LOL. It was definitely a very different scene, compared to your brother’s first Santa experience…
Anyway, this year Santa came to our house for our playgroup’s annual holiday party and gave out gifts to all the kiddos. You naturally enjoyed the bow + wrapping paper more than the gift (once Alex helped you open it 😉 ).
Here’s some of our other fun moments from the last month:
You’re such a water baby! Bath time is like this most every night… you just go crazy in there are love every minute of it! This particular night you were in the tub by yourself, but usually you & Alex take baths together just because it’s a lot easier logistically.
You’re quite an excellent eater! You’ve gotten two teeth, bottom center, which I suspect contributed to the start of this ear infection business. Also, despite being in a phase were you very much enjoy throwing things on the floor (especially when Annie is around), you still manage to consume more than you drop these days.
Look how well you can crawl now! Since this video was taken, you’ve gotten even faster. I have to watch you like a hawk.
Despite being very sick, you still managed to have many smiley moments. Overall, you’re a very chill & happy baby still. I look forward to you being an even happier baby once we have all these ear troubles behind us.
This is my MOST FAVORITE PHOTO right now! You & Dad were snuggled up in bed with Alex, just after he’d woken up from his nap. I think it shows very well how much love the three of you have for one another. 🙂 Such a sweet moment! Alex was giving you lots of kisses. Obviously between daycare & home, you two are never far from each other’s side….
Dad getting lots of help fixing one of your toys. LOL
Alex wanted desperately for you to wear one of the Ninja Turtle masks he made… but if you couldn’t eat it, you decided you’d rather not. 😉
I put you in bed with Alex a lot, especially on the weekends when we all read together before nap time. He loves to cuddle with you, but now that you can crawl you’d rather explore his bed and mess with his stuffed animals!
So I have to say, as difficult as it was to get your monthly photo last time, it was even worse this time with you being able to stand…. you would NOT. STAY. STILL. Good lord. Huge PITA, but we got there eventually (sort of). Only two more of these to go though!
And so I think I’ve finally said all I wanted to say… I can wrap up this mammoth letter! As you can see, it’s been a very eventful month (and then some). Parenting the second child may sound easier in theory, but you have been excellent at keeping me on my toes! And now that you’re mobile (not to mention having a huge penchant for trouble/being drawn to the most dangerous thing in the room like flies to honey), I mean that in the most literal sense. LOL. It’s a crazy, busy, exhausting, challenging life… but I wouldn’t trade it. 😉 Happy 10 (well heck, almost 11) months Charlie– you are such a blessing to this family. Dad, Alex & I simply cannot imagine our lives without you!