NEVER!!!

Dear Charlie,

You are on the fast track to 3 years old and in many ways I think you’re already there. I can’t get over how smart you are, which is becoming increasingly evident as you get more and more clear with your words/talking. In terms of personality, I think you’re more Stoddard than Pacheco– strong-willed (stubborn as an ox really, haha), impulsive, a natural leader and problem-solver, but still incredibly sweet and caring… and really quite charming. You love your brother and playing with him is your favorite thing, but you’re also not afraid to stand up for yourself. You take no shit from anyone. ๐Ÿ˜‰ As far as stereotypes go, you’re doing a pretty good job of fulfilling those of being left-handed + red headed + the middle child.

20170728_093309

Your favorite things are still sports, cars and animals. You’ve become very attached to a little gray stuffed kitten that you’ve cleverly named “Cat.” Cat goes just about everywhere with you.

20170923_115853

You’re also starting to get into legos and drawing, I think because Alex is so into those things. This summer you’ve also developed a love for the water– you fearlessly jump in and swim in a pool whenever you get the chance (with the floatie on, of course, but I think swim lessons will need to be in your near future). I’m glad I only worked part-time this summer so that I could spend more time with you guys…. but if I’m being honest, you’re the reason I ultimately decided to go back to full-time. I wouldn’t say that you’re a bad kid, but you’re so inquisitive & fearless that I can’t take my eyes off you for a second or you’re into something messy, dangerous, or otherwise inappropriate. My strategy for this has been to just involve you in whatever I’m doing, which luckily you usually are happy to do — my big helper! — but Mommy really needed the mental & physical break I get when you’re at preschool.

20170727_072227

Speaking of preschool, you are doing so well with it! There were some tears in the beginning but you rallied quickly, and now you run into class without so much as a goodbye or backwards glance. It’s been a great outlet for your energy and creativity, and you’re learning tons. I’m so incredibly proud of you!

20170830_081423

Another thing you’ve been making leaps and bounds with lately is potty training. We’ve had to take a step back with it since school started because they require you to be in a pull-up (and you take that opportunity to just go in the diaper :-\ ), but when you’re home in undies you do really great with it. As with Alex, it was really just a matter of waiting until you decided you wanted to do it.

20170829_092934

Overall I’m really enjoying this stage of your life, even with its challenges (which we’re getting better at dealing with). My favorite part of every day is the smattering of hugs and kisses I get from you pretty much constantly throughout the day. And that sweet, devilish grin of yours. You’re growing up so fast, and my reaction to that is much the same as yours when I tell you to put your toys away and get ready for bed– “NEVER!!!” ๐Ÿ˜‰ But alas… I know better.

All my love,
Mom

Advertisements

Hurricane Charlie

Dear Charlie,

It’s been a crazy spring & summer… now as we approach hurricane season I have finally made some time to write about my favorite little hurricane. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

But overall I’d say you don’t have the nurturing instinct that Alex has & therefore your interests lie elsewhere. Nothing wrong with that of course; I love that you are very much your own person & you’re certainly always keeping us on our toes. You have a very BIG personality– I’d say in general everything with you is go BIG or go home…. the smiles that light up the room, the tantrums that can be heard in China, the amount of force you put behind throwing a baseball, your amazing dance moves (including one that we’ve coined “The Charlie Shuffle” that unfortunately I haven’t gotten on video yet), your spectacular messes, the way you grab my face between your two little hands and pull me in for big sloppy kisses (complete with “MMMMUAH!!!”), and of course the many confounding ways you manage to get into mischief. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

I still think you’re going to be quite the little athlete when the time comes. You love love love baseball and were dying to play t-ball with Alex’s team this season. Unfortunately you can’t officially play until you’re 4, but one of the perks of Dad being a coach is that you got to go out on the field and warm up with the team at every game you attended. The rest of the time I spent most of my energy dragging you out of the dugout. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You also love basketball, and I think I’m going to sign you up for soccer next year because I think you’d like that too. This summer you’ve been quite the little fish, so swim lessons are also on your to-do list.

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

Another big love of yours at the moment is vehicles of any sort. Everywhere you go, car-watching is your go-to way to occupy yourself. This means that I get to listen to “Mommy, a car! Mommy, a truck! Mommy, a bus!” pretty much constantly throughout every. single. car ride. Lucky me! ๐Ÿ˜‰ We really hit the jackpot when we spot something like a firetruck or school bus. LOL. You thought all buses were school buses until we recently taught you to identify “silly” (city) buses.

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

Truly, these are all excellent qualities to have & I think you’ll probably run the world when you grow up… but it does make it challenging to parent you. You’re a good kid and I don’t think you have a malicious bone in your body, but nevertheless I really do have to watch you like a hawk (or we all pay the price!). ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think part of this relates to the fact that you’re so smart– like when the smart kid is not being challenged enough at school so he starts making trouble in the classroom. At home I can’t focus on engaging you constantly as I’m splitting my time/attention between 3 kids + 1 husband + 1 dog + LIFE, so you take matters into your own hands. And at the end of the day, I wouldn’t change any of it. You keep things interesting for sure, and bring a lot of joy and laughter to our family. I can’t wait to see what you choose to do with your firecracker spirit as time goes on. ๐Ÿ™‚

19961254_10101252573893747_5698780753072373710_n.jpg

20170420_162514.jpg

LAURA-15.jpg

All my love,
Mom

“How can I love you? I don’t even like you!”

Dear Alex,

The summer has flown by and now you’re sneaking up on age 3! I can’t believe how fast this year is going by (although as you’re reading this I’m sure I sound like a broken record… I know I say it a lot. Time has been going at warp speed pretty much since the day you were born & is now at triple warp speed with Charlie here too). We’ve had a lot of fun this summer, but it’s also been pretty challenging as far as parenting goes. You’ve definitely embraced some aspects of the whole “terrible 2” thing, and of course they say age 3 is worse. These days it’s known as the “threenager” stage & I can already see why– you’ve started to roll your eyes and huff at me every once in awhile in a very teenager-ish way, and say “o-KAAAAAY” when I ask you to do something. Oy! And so as much as I love you (which is a WHOLE LOT), there are definitely times when it’s very difficult to like you. That being said, the quote I chose to title this post with actually came from you a couple months ago– you said this to dad one evening when I had to work late and he had to be the one to put you to bed (it’s usually me who does that). You were crying for me and Dad said something like “Aww come on, don’t you love me?” to which you responded “How can I love you? I don’t even like you!” OUCH. Dad’s feelings were pretty hurt, although of course I told him not to take it personally… whenever I’m here & he’s not, you’re always asking for him. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. Still, I thought that was a pretty deep (albeit hurtful) thing to say for a 2 year old.

I do think you’re a pretty big thinker for someone your age! You’re definitely very sensitive and concerned with others’ well-being more than I would expect a 2 year old to be. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I see it happening more & more frequently. For example, just tonight you told me to be careful with my soup because you didn’t want me to burn my mouth, so could I please blow on it before I eat it? LOL. Another example is a few weeks ago, we had just gotten in the car to go to daycare and I was sitting there getting my seatbelt on (hadn’t even started the car yet), when you apparently saw that another car was coming down the street and said to me “Mom! There’s another car, it’s going bye-bye. Don’t you DARE go in the road!” You’re similarly attentive to Charlie and Dad, but I also see it with strangers (especially other kids that are crying). Although you’re still pretty shy, you’re quicker to come out of your shell in social situations and when you do, you’re quite the charmer!

Emotional intelligence aside, you’re very on top of things academically as well… and it’s not like we push all of it very hard, but you’re just naturally curious and seem to pick things up really quickly. You have several of your favorite books and songs memorized. You know a plethora of colors & shapes, can recognize both capital and lowercase letters & for some of the more common ones, you know how they sound. On a good day you can spell your name, but that’s still hit or miss. You can also recognize numbers up to 10, but you can count to 20 and have started to be able to actually count groups of objects. You know more about topics like space, anatomy, animals, plants, etc than I think the average 2 year old does. You’re just so incredibly smart and it blows me away constantly. You still love books and we read together a lot. Since you have many of your books memorized, you also “read” to me & Charlie too. Sometimes I worry that by not having you in preschool yet, we’re not helping you meet your full potential… but everything I’ve heard/read on the subject says that at this age, you learn the most through playing anyway. For this year, I thought becoming a big brother was enough change for you!

No news on the potty front. Sometimes I get frustrated when I see so many of our friends’ kids potty training and how well they’ve done with it…. but you just aren’t ready. I feel like a big part of it is that none of the other kids at daycare are trained yet either. Once you start seeing other kids use the potty on a regular basis, I think that will pique your interest. But for now, you’re still very much team “Diapers for Life.” Sigh. With two kids, a full time job and a lot of extracurriculars, I just don’t have the time or energy to try to force the issue right now. Many of my friends with older kids swear that one day you’ll just wake up, decide it’s the right time and ask to wear undies. Praying that is the case.

One of the bigger changes I’ve seen in you since my last letter is the development of fears & nightmares. Sometimes you wake up crying in the night and I have a hard time settling you down because you aren’t fully awake. It breaks my heart. Even awake, you are suddenly afraid of many things– the dark, most animals, anything loud, fantasy things like dragons & giants, other random things. When we were walking around the neighborhood recently you FREAKED OUT when we walked under the branches of a big tree because you were afraid an animal was going to jump down out of the tree onto you. Hoping this is a phase and not something we should be worried about. If it’s still an issue by the time we get to your three year appointment, I’m going to ask about it. For now, we try to anticipate things you’re going to be afraid of and talk you through it in advance.

We haven’t done a “Favorite Things” list in awhile, so now might be a good time! You currently LOVE…
* Puzzles
* Books (most recently “The Going to Bed Book” by Sandra Boyton, it must be in bed with you every night, but only when you’re ready to fall asleep. You take the title quite literally!)
* Stickers– we use these as rewards
* Ninja Turtles, Minions, Mickey Mouse, Sesame Street (your favorite is now Cookie Monster, but Elmo is still high up there)
* Pizza, mac & cheese, chicken nuggets– the typical toddler food group
* Broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, most fruit
* Wendy’s chili (random but true)
* Anything Dad, Charlie or I am eating
* Music & dancing– You’re always singing, turning everything into a song and like to start randomly dancing when you hear music (or are making your own music). The easiest way to get you to cooperate or calm you down from a tantrum is to distract you/persuade you with songs.
* TV shows: Handy Manny, Super Why, Sesame Street, Pajanimals, a few others
* Swings, and sometimes slides. You recently mastered climbing up your slide and going down on your tummy, so that’s fun.
* Pretend play– you’re really into your dress-up trunk which is mostly just hats at the moment, but we’ll be adding a bunch more stuff to it for Christmas. You also like to give us “check ups” with your doctor kit and play “restaurant” in your clubhouse outside (where you take our order and cook something for us)
* Helping– In addition to doing everything yourself, you’re now in the “big helper” phase… although I don’t know how much you’re actually helping, at least you’re willing to let us get chores done rather than constantly getting us to stop what we’re doing to play with you. Specifically you like helping me cook and do dishes. ๐Ÿ˜‰
* Babies– You still love Charlie of course & are an AMAZING big brother, but now that many of our friends have had second babies you’ve been really enjoying them as well. Recently we took care of a friend’s 1 month old girl and you asked me if you could have a baby sister….. :-X Yikes!

I’d write a list of dislikes, but in typical fickle toddler fashion your dislikes change by the second. You pretty consistently don’t like animals though– at least not live ones, up close…. and that includes our dog Annie. I think you’re fine with animals & theory, but when they get too close to you, you get scared. Oh, and you consistently do not like eggs– scrambled, fried, doesn’t matter how they’re cooked. Other than that, everything is pretty much hit or miss.

That’s enough rambling– I have TONS of pictures and videos to tell the rest of our story! ๐Ÿ™‚

At the trampoline park, you were finally able to climb up to the top of the trampoline wall! You were so proud of yourself. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Playing glow in the dark putt-putt… you quickly got bored with the game itself, and talked Dad into letting you ride on his shoulders the ENTIRE time, even when he did the lazer maze!

The Pacheco side of the family came to visit for 4th of July weekend– you had a blast playing with your cousins, as usual!

This year you got to hold your first sparkler– closely supervised of course!

You & Charlie went to stay with both sets of grandparents for a week over the summer while daycare was closed for vacation. I missed you guys SO MUCH…. don’t think we’ll be sending you guys away for that long again any time soon! This was the day you came home. We celebrated your return with a hat party!

You & Dad love playing with Legos together. This is Dad’s “big boy” set, which I have since banned now that Charlie is mobile, due to the choking hazard. Now you guys mostly play with your toddler-friendly set instead.

You want to do EVERYTHING Dad is doing– you’re his little shadow! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cheese! I’ve been working on teaching you to smile with your teeth. Anytime I take a picture of Charlie, you want your picture taken too.

Snuggled up in bed while you were sick. We had a really terrible month or so of illness in our house– you & Charlie took turns getting croup, you also had a brief stomach virus, and I was sick with some sort of cold/flu virus as well.

Miserable at the doctor’s office– they had to swab your throat for the first time to test for strep and you did NOT want to do it. The nurse had to bribe you with copious amounts of Ninja Turtle stickers. You were still miserable, but you asked me to take a picture of your stickers to show Dad anyway. My poor baby! As a parent, your kids being sick is the WORST thing. You want to do anything and everything it takes to make your little ones feel better… but there’s only so much you can do, and you just feel so powerless.

Once you were feeling better, it was back to the important business of fun and play! We enjoyed the local splash park (which I didn’t get many pictures of since I was busy having fun also), and the big playground next door.

Front porch sittin’ & rocking our shades!

Putting together one of your puzzles. You master them pretty quickly, so I’m constantly on the lookout for new puzzles to keep you challenged! Luckily the dollar store has a nice variety that are just your size.

Enjoying your swingset in the backyard, as we do almost everyday. It’s your favorite place to be! One thing that’s been an issue lately is the baby swing– you’re able to use the big boy swing but still prefer the baby one… but at 40lb + having a little brother who likes to join in on the fun, we’ve had to force you to give this up & you are not happy about it. You still try to talk us into letting you use the baby swing all the time.

Just a typical afternoon in the Pacheco house– puzzling & singing. ๐Ÿ™‚

I took you to the movies for the first time a couple months ago. We saw the movie “Minions,” which I knew would be perfect for your first movie as you are OBSESSED with the Minions characters. You did pretty good– you sat quietly and watched for about 3/4 of the movie, then got a little squirmy towards the end and stood there in front of your seat. But you didn’t fuss at all and seemed to enjoy yourself. This little display just outside the theater was the perfect photo op!

Hanging out after the movie with your pal Ella. ๐Ÿ™‚

Team huddle time during basketball class. Coach Mike was a nice guy, but overall you didn’t like basketball class as much as you liked baseball.

I saved the bunny ears from Easter and put them into your hat box. This picture cracks me up!

Proudly displaying some artwork. You LOVE to paint and color with crayons/markers.

You did a great job at your most recent trip to the dentist, and your teeth got a clean bill of health! ๐Ÿ˜€

Piled up with all your necessities as we headed out of town for our mini-vacation in Hampton. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Riding the new “pedal ponies” in the mall. It took you awhile to get the hang of it, but once you did we were all over the place! I had a lot of fun with this too, although it is a major leg workout!

Checking out some exhibits with Dad at the Virginia Living Museum. We had such a blast there!

Buckroe Beach + playground with Grandma! You were not a huge fan of the sand at first, which is unfortunate because it’s kind of hard to avoid sand at the beach. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But you got over it after awhile and enjoyed playing in the sand right at the edge of the water while the waves came up over your feet & legs (a far cry from your first trip to the beach, LOL). You & I also had a great time walking down the beach to collect shells.

You had an awesome first theme park experience at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg! Both sides of the family came with us– Bobby & Solly rode many of the rides with you (in addition to me & Dad), and you had a blast! You were so worn out by the time we were done, you fell asleep on Dad’s shoulders as we were walking out of the park. He carried you on the trolley to the car and you slept all the way home (and then some). Phew! I thought you were going to enjoy the Sesame Street part of the park more, but there wasn’t much to it & the Zoe character that everyone was taking pictures with scared you. I think because you expect the characters to be smaller based on their TV appearance, not the 6ft+ monster we saw that day!

Now that Charlie can sit in the wagon with you, we take it out for a spin around the neighborhood quite often. ๐Ÿ™‚

We recently had a very rainy weekend when a nor’easter + a hurricane came up the east coast… so for some indoor fun, we broke out our book of science experiments and tried our hand at making “fizzy foam” with vinegar, dish soap & baking soda. You loved mixing the different foam colors!

Fixing a toy with Dad!

Getting your face painted for the first time at a local fall festival. I wasn’t sure how you would react to this, but you chose Lightning McQueen to go on your cheek, sat still while the lady painted it, and were absolutely thrilled with the results. You’ve had your face painted a couple other times since then, and you really seem to enjoy it.

Bath time is much more fun now that Charlie can play in there with you!

You and Charlie love to fly to space in your rocketship. ๐Ÿ™‚

Recently we went on a pirate-themed cruise on the Potomac. It was so much fun! Here you are showing off your “booty.”

You recently decided that you want to be a fire chief when you grow up. I think that’s a good choice as it incorporates some of your favorite things– being the boss, helping people, and wearing cool hats. ๐Ÿ˜‰

That’s about all for now. Overall it’s been an amazing summer! Everyday is a new adventure, and although life with two little ones has its rough moments… you & Charlie have brought us so much joy. You make us smile & laugh everyday. ๐Ÿ™‚ As I finish this letter, you’re sitting in bed next to me eating a snack & reading a book in your Halloween costume, which you’re SO excited about. I’ll save that for the next letter though, along with the rest of the holidays. We had so much fun this summer, but now that we’re getting into my favorite time of year with Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas I’m so excited for even more fun stuff we have in store over the next few months!

Until next time, my sweet Alex. As I tell you every night, I’m SO glad to be your Mommy. ๐Ÿ™‚ Dad, Charlie & I love you so very much!

All my love,
Mom

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

Dear Alex,

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

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

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

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

Your little personality has also blossomed quite a bit in the last few months. You’re still shyer than manyย of the kids this age, but also a lot more outgoing than you used to be. You’re quicker to be willing to leave my side in new situations, and talk to people more freely now. A couple weeks ago we were walking through the neighborhood and came across a guy gardening in his front yard, and you struck up a conversation with him. That day you were wearing an Avengers shirt and asking the guy who was who on your shirt (as he was apparently an Avengers fan too), then you tried to give him your stuffed Cookie Monster which is pretty high praise! Haha. You’re not always so great about sharing, but you do seem to be more sensitive and caring of others’ feelings than many kids this age are. You LOVE to make people smile and laugh. You’re the biggest ham! When someone is visibly sad, you’re quick to let me know (“that girl is crying!”) and try to do something to make them feel better. We actually lost one of your toy trucks at the kid’s hair salon a month or two ago because another little boy was crying during his haircut, and you gave the boy your toy truck to help him feel better. Then we ended up leaving before he did and forgot about it. You’re very affectionate (super generous with hugs & kisses ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and overall just a super sweet guy.

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

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

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

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

A candid snuggly moment Dad caught on camera. ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course we went down to Hampton for Easter weekend and enjoyed visiting family. You were really into the egg hunt this year! It was so nice having the Pachecos and Stoddards together for one celebration this year. The weekend after Easter we had our annual egg hunt with the playgroup too, so by then you were a pro. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I absolutely adore that bottom photo– you look like a little model.

Tuckered out after a friend’s birthday party.

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

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

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

Thought I’d better contrast that last photo with a happy one. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You’re not always fussy, and in fact I think you’re a lot less fussy than other kids your age I’ve met, at least when you’re with me. Anyway, in this picture you & I were gardening in the front yard while Dad mowed the lawn. You enjoyed pulling up weeds… perhaps a bit too much, because you pulled up some of my loriope too.

Hanging out with your buddy Colin!

Making cookies with your girl Autumn. ๐Ÿ˜‰ This little princess had you wrapped around her finger from the moment you saw her. I brought you downstairs to hang out with her after a nap, and within 30 minutes she had you putting on her shoes for her and kissing her hand! LOL

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

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

Breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day!

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

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

A month or so ago you had a bad cold that brought about another ear infection (just when I thought you were finally done with those, ugh!). While we were waiting for the pharmacy to get your meds together, I took you to the Subway next door to share some milk & cookies. ๐Ÿ™‚ But even now, weeks later, any time we go by that Subway you’re like “Get a cookie?” You’ve got a memory like a steel trap!

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

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

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

Fun times with Mom! We spend lots of time outside on your play set– we like to play restaurant in that bottom part, taking turns being the waiter & customer. You must be a fantastic chef, because you’re able to whip me up any food I ask for out of thin air. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The bottom picture is from a recent trip to Clemyjontri, our favorite local park. You enjoyed all the swings, slides, things to climb on, and ESPECIALLY the carousel.

And last but certainly not least, lots of happy times playing with your little brother! ๐Ÿ™‚ He’s never far from your side. We’ll see how long it lasts until you’re trying to get away from him. LOL. I suspect he won’t be as cute and fun to you when he’s mobile and able to snatch toys from you! But for now, we’re all enjoying the relative peace and harmony.

Phew, that’s about it! There are so many more cute pictures from the last few months, but just not enough time or space to share them all here. Suffice it to say that you are growing, learning, saying and doing SO MUCH every single day, constantly getting into new adventures and blowing our minds at how smart you are as well as how quickly you’re becoming an independent little being. It’s the most hilarious, fascinating, insanely awesome thing… and us parents are just along for the ride, trying not to completely screw things up. ๐Ÿ˜‰

All my love,
Mom

Kicking off the Terrible Two’s

Dear Alex,

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

We didn’t do much on your actual birthday because it was so close to Charlie’s due date… we weren’t sure if I’d be in the hospital or not. Thankfully I was not, so we did at least take you out to a bounce house place, out to eat, and of course you have to have some cake on your birthday! ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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

DSC_1323

I think that picture more or less captures your reaction to Charlie’s arrival. ๐Ÿ™‚ You’ve been a wonderful big brother so far, showering Charlie with hugs and kisses, helping me take care of him (although you have the attention span of a gnat at this age, so you only help in 10 to 30 second spurts), letting me know when Charlie is crying (“Mommy, Charlie’s hungry! Charlie dropped his paci!” Haha), and attempting to share your toys with him (and to my dismay, food/drinks as well). I have to watch you closely when you’re around him so that you don’t give him anything dangerous.

20150128_190555~2

DSC_1366

IMG_20150221_180537

IMG_20150227_100710

IMG_20150306_105828

I think you’ll enjoy being a big brother even more once Charlie’s big enough to really play with you, but for now you’ve been very sweet and patient with him. Thank goodness. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

IMG_20150213_072452~2

IMG_20150218_175328

IMG_20150130_190204

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

IMG_20150221_080917

Playing the drums with your feet… Gosh, you’re so talented! ๐Ÿ˜‰

IMG_20150215_164421

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

IMG_20150216_192738

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

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

2015-02-14

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

IMG_20150314_170254

Enjoying the bounce house at a friend’s birthday party recently! This one actually wasn’t your favorite; you preferred the one that had a slide on it. However, I wasn’t able to get many pictures of you on that one because it was so tall that you needed help getting up there, & you’d sit on my lap sliding down. One of the best things about being a parent is getting to do fun kid stuff like that, which you don’t often get a chance to do as an adult without kids. ๐Ÿ˜‰

IMG_20150224_183735

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

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

IMG_20150227_175405~2

Or every morning when it’s time to take your pajamas off. Or when it’s too cold/wet to go outside & play. Or when you can’t have cookies for dinner. Or really pretty much any time we tell you “no.” :-\ Not that you are against the word in principle, because you love to say it yourself! You’ve also started to get bossy… words like “Mine!” and phrases like “Gimme that!” have entered your repertoire recently. But currently, the biggest challenge isย hitting. You try to smack us when we tellย you no. We’re working hard to nip that in the bud, but still have a long way to go unfortunately. Every day I pray for the patience, strength and grace to get through this phase of your life! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Of course, it’s not all doom & gloom… this age is also a LOT of fun, and you can be ridiculously cute when you want to be. For example, just the other night after your fourth stint in time-out over the span of 30 minutes (for hitting me when you didn’t want to take a bath), I was kneeling down in front of you explaining whyย you were in time-out. Our faces were less than a foot apart. The conversation went something like this….

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

Alex: …..

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

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

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

IMG_20150221_113655

IMG_20150304_173100

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

IMG_20150311_200123

IMG_20150312_184122

IMG_20150308_161032

That last picture was taken after I discovered you’d climbed out of bed during your nap & fallen asleep in the chair. It was so cute that I couldn’t really be too mad about it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Actually, sleep has been an issue lately for you as well. Ironically I’ve been so tired all the time these last few weeks not because of Charlie (which is what most people would think), but because of you. You fight naps & bedtime HARD, taking at least an hour to finally fall asleep, sometimes skipping naps entirely, and often waking in the middle of the night for several hours at a time. Sometimes you just play in your bed quietly, but other times you wake up crying and I have to go in there and calm you down. My best guess is a combination of anxiety from the big changes in our family dynamic, nightmares, and a cough you’ve had that seems to bother you more often at night than during the day. It’s one of those things where I just keep telling myself “This too shall pass…” Although to be honest, prior to having kids I never imagined I’d still be dealing with this muchย sleep deprivation at 2 years old. It can be really tough, especially without grandparents around to help out & give us a break.

Luckily spring is just around the corner, and my hope is that more time to exercise outside will help burn some energy and help you sleep better. We have a lot of fun things planned for this spring & summer, with the play group as well as withย friends & family… Dad & I can’t wait to experience them all with our two amazing little boys! ๐Ÿ™‚

All my love,
Mom