Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Dearest Avery,
Today you are two (or, you were when I started this, who knows when I'll be done with it)! When you are reading this someday, probably in your twenties, possibly even with children of your own, I want you to keep in mind that I'd take a bullet for you. I'd throw myself in front of a moving vehicle to save you. I'd wrassle a bear or a pack of hungry meerkats. And all similar acts of mother love. I want you to know this and keep this in the front of your mind, because this recap? Might not be pretty. It's going to be chock-full of real life scenarios, and how you were, at age almost two. What's the point in sugar-coating, and tricking my memory? Memories do that on their own anyways. It's going to sound like you've driven me to the official brink, and it might not translate as love. But just know that it's all love. Insane unexplainable love. Capisce?
You talk. A lot. Dear God in Heaven. It's very sweet, your voice. For the first half hour of the day. Your voice, child! It's so high-pitched!!! I didn't know nature/God made voices this high. Truly. I'm waiting for some toddler-stage change to take place, because I remember your brother's voice was so sweetly high pitched in the beginning, and the older he got, the deeper it sounded. I don't think this is going to happen to you. Compound this incredibly high-pitched sweet voice with the desire, no, the demand, to be heard all day... and there you have it. Oftentimes unintelligible words and phrases, said at top decibel, over and over. And. Over. You sometimes throw in a outstretched hand, like a politician making a grand point, for good measure. As if this hand motion will help me to better understand you. You also sometimes get very very close to me, and whisper this word or phrase that I'm too dumb to understand. That's pretty much the cutest ever, though. My impatience is crumbled when you do that, because it's indescribably cute. Imagine a deliciously cute little girl, getting mere centimeters from your face, whispering the word 'tassle'... and this look of 'you understand now, don't you?!'.... Yes, I melt from that.
You love to say 'come on Mommy'.. When you want to show me something, you say it, as you do your politicians hand gesture. You also say come on (10 times in a row) when I am driving. And you're in the back-seat, wanting to show me something in a book you're reading. Oh your backseat requests and demands, it's endlessly entertaining. You'll say GO with increasing anger, at any stop sign or red light. I remember your brother went through this stage, but with much less rage. I somewhat recall it being as simple as me explaining 'red means stop. green means go. we have to wait for green.' or something like that. It was a non-issue, like most things. You either have already grasped this concept and are now just toying with my sanity (my hunch), or you just haven't had it click yet (not likely, you're smart. like a velociraptor). Backseat stress is actually in full throttle, currently. Well. Probably not. This is probably just the tipping point, I know. But you and Andrew have started to .. squabble. It's hard to say who's doing more antagonizing. Because you both have your own little tics and quirks. If Andrew wiggles his fingers anywhere near you, like he's about to tickle you (but still far away), you get VERY pissed. You scream 'NO! STOP!' And he hasn't even touched you. I taught him the meaning of the word 'antagonize', and I use it frequently. I warn him to not antagonize you. But of course, he does. And then sometimes it is ALL you doing the instigating. Even when you don't really plan to. Once recently, I honked at a car, and you perked up and yelled TRAIN! (around 40 times in a row).. then after that period of fun, you wildly pointed in random places, desperately looking for the train (that was my car-honk), yelling 'here it comes! here it comes! train! here it comes!'... Andrew tries so hard to kindly redirect you, because oh my gosh. Just do that, right now. Say TRAIN! and HERE IT COMES! in a very high voice, 30-40 times in a row. (*there is no train. ever.) You kind of loathe yourself now right? It's hard, redirecting you sometimes, when your reset button needs pushed. Without sounding like a horrible person (too late, I know. I'm human). It's a lot for a 5 year old to be around sometimes, especially one as mild as your bro. If he was more of well.. a total spazz? I think you two would be more on the same page. But you know, you are both perfectly you. He's truly the yin to your yang, as much as I really dislike that cliche. If there was a time to use it, it would be referencing the two of you. I'm lucky that I get a front row seat, watching your sweet little relationship bloom.
You are very very sweet at heart, as much as I give you a hard time for your constant spunkiness and rage..  We were just earlier reading books, me reading to you and Andrew, and you were ALL up in my grill, trying to turn the pages before it was time, blocking Andrew's view of the book, and just the normal chaos...  I told you to sit on the couch with him, and you very loudly said NO! with an angry finger pointing in my face. I didn't blink, just held my 'I mean bidness, child' stare.. and within 5 seconds, no joke, you said 'I sorry!' and gently patted my shoulder with your sweet pudgy little hand. We just never know what we're going to get with you. Sometimes a situation like that would have escalated into a ridiculous boneless heap on the ground, other times it ends in an apology that melts my weary mother heart. It's fun, the not knowing.
I do sense the slow uprising of drama, though. Whenever you are touched when you ought not be touched (watching your stories, mostly), you yell OWWW! I know a simple nudge or touch doesn't hurt you, because you are a bull in a china shop. You faceplant ALL the time, almost never cry, slam into things as a daily routine with nary the tear. You simply like to say OWWW! dramatically as a way to assert yourself. One of the many ways you assert yourself, of course. It's cute, for now. Aside from a firm grabbing if you're bailing towards the street area, you never feel physical pain from us, as we aren't a spanking family. Or a swatting one, something I can't wrap my head around. You're welcome for that! I imagine I'd be hearing a chorus of OWWWS all day long if we punished opposed to disciplined.
You love love love to sing your ABCs. I have been singing you the ABCs since you popped out of the womb, basically. I did the same with your brother. And he was singing the ABCs just like you are, at around the same age. I think he sang it with a bit more efficiency, but you're in it for the theatrics, obviously. You say about every 5th letter with proficiency, but your really move & shake and sway while you do it. And at the end, there's a very emphatic 'sing wif MEEEEE!'.. big outstretched arms, etc. Other current favorite songs include Mickey. No, not as in Mouse, as in the 1982 hit by Tony Basil. You request it at bedtime when I'm singing you any song you want, while putting on your diaper/lotion/pjs. I don't know all the words, so it's a lot of made up gibberish, but I hold the beat fairly well and you get positively giddy. You love Tainted Love as much as your brother. You know what songs your father and I respectively prefer. Say, if a Coldplay song comes on, you'll say 'Daddy song'.. and if anything by Eddie Vedder comes on, it's 'Mommy song'...
You have developed sort of an evil-villain/genius laugh. This surprises no one. It's very drawn out and exaggerated, and I think it scares new friends we make at the park.
You love to be chased. You'll run off screaming 'I get you Mommy!' (yes despite the fact that I'm the one getting you). Recently, as you run, you grab at your rear end, and say 'Git the booty!' Because you positively LIVE for me say 'I'm gonna get that booty!' and I give it a little pinch. You squeal at the top of your lungs.
In similar fashion, you love to run, away from me. This is a work in progress, because obviously it's not ideal to have you run from me in any place other than home/a contained area. I say STOP but you just keep on. Yesterday, this happened, I said stop, and you STOPPED. I instantly poured on the reinforcement, saying how that was great stopping and great listening and that it made me so happy. You seriously melted, smiling and cuddling into me, just lavishing in the praise. It was pretty cute.
You are a momma's girl, through and through. You cling to me, something fierce. Even your father confirms that he too never recalls a phase/time when Andrew so distinctly preferred one of us over the other. It tickles us, how you choose me, over and over, without fail. It's just the beginning of the beautiful co-dependent mother/daughter relationship. It's too complex for words and too complex for this here blog, just yet. For now, it's just sweet and cute and yes, tiring.
At bedtime, I read you a quick book, and if I'm lucky I get about 30 seconds to just hold you before you tell me 'GO! BED!' before I put you in your crib. I tell you how much I love you, and I always say 'do you know you're my best girl?' and you always say 'yeeeeah...' and smile and nod and just eat it up.
I'm so lucky to have a daughter. I'm even luckier to have you. Happy 2nd birthday, Nugs.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Dear Son,
I wanted to document your 5th birthday (almost a month late, I knooooow), not because we did anything particularly crazy or expensive or ambitious, but because it was just a good good day. It was mostly a normal day, just peppered with fun things we don't do very often. 
I had every intention to tape some bright green crepe paper I bought across your bedroom door, so you'd get to bust out in the morning. But then I thought 1. you'd probably be like WHAT THE WHAT and be more annoyed at having to put forth such effort upon waking, than think it was actually fun and 2. I really needed your sister to sleep as late as possible (every minute past 7am makes a difference!), so the less noise, the better. So, that plan was scrapped. Maybe next year. 
Your usual routine when you get up, is you coming into our room. I'm usually on the computer, drinking coffee, and your father is usually on the laptop in bed, or getting dressed for work. You ALWAYS request to play Go Fish in the mornings, and we always have you check the monitor first. If Avery is asleep, we're a go.. if she's awake, then it's time to start the day. Yes, before the day even begins, your sister dictates our day. Life with a young toddler, all round the world! But this day, your 5th birthday, we had some presents set up in the living room. Some wrapped, some not. You made a bee-line, of course. You very sleepily ripped into them. Full disclosure: one of them was a Christmas-surplus gift, set aside in the closet with the intent to give to you on your birthday. You never even knew. You got a tool-kit set, a REAL tee for t-ball practice outside (which weighs about 20 lbs, no lie), some doodle-pads (which was the biggest hit, go fig) and markers and other misc things. I think my excitement in taking pictures had the opposite effect on you though. The more happy I appeared, the crabbier you got. You just DID NOT want the camera around that early. Asking you to hold up 5 fingers for photos resulted in a very annoyed snarl and a limp-wristed hand. Fun! We did breakfast as usual, (I think I had donuts for you, I'll tell my memory to believe that..) and you got dressed and did your 'morning responsibilities'. (yes, in days past they would have been called 'chores', but I enjoy hearing you say things in very grown-up complicated ways..) You made your bed, you opened the blinds and turned on the lamp. And then you got to play some wii. Usually 2 racing games, sometimes 3. Each game lasts about 4 minutes, so it's not a huge chunk of time, but enough for you, for now. You start rubbing your non-blinking laserbeam eyes sometimes after 2 games, so I know it's enough for now. 
You never even asked what we were doing for the day, or if we had plans at all. I loved this. You had NO expectations. How many more years of that will there be? Not many, I am certain. You'll become better friends with much much more spoiled kids, you'll watch more TV & commercials, you'll get more ideas.. and this time of having no expectations will be history. I didn't even tell you what we had planned until about 5 minutes before we were to leave. I asked you if you wanted to go watch the planes take off and land, and you started jumping up and down, saying 'Oh yes! Oh boy oh boy!!!!' I didn't tell you that your father had plans to meet us there - which was the ultimate in surprises for you, Ultimate Daddy's Boy lately. We went and picked up Chick Fil A (your choice), and planned to eat it while we watched the planes. We get there and you go running for a picnic bench, climb on the very top and start yelling one thing after another 'Do ya see that one?! Hey Mommy! Hey Mommy! That's an American EAGLE, not American Airlines. That's a triple-7!! And that's a Super 80! Oh look over  there!!' and so on and so on. Endless commentating. All this while I'm still getting Avery unbuckled and putting her jacket on. You are a mile a minute, from the very start. Our plan is that your Dad is to text me when he's at the stop-light to turn in, so I can distract you while he parks, and get it on video. Amazingly and surprisingly, the plan works perfectly and I get a cool video of him creeping up behind you, and you turning and saying 'Hiiiiii!!!!!' Super surprised. You jumped in his arms and gave him the happiest hug. And you didn't even know yet he was going to eat with us, you were just genuinely giddy to see him in the middle of the day. A rare special treat. We told you he was going to eat with us and you kept saying 'really???!' We let you all play for a bit, and then it was time to eat. It was crazy windy, so eating with paper-wrappers/napkins wouldn't have been easy, so it's a good thing your Daddy drives a boat!! The Avalon provided more than enough space in the backseat (me in the front, distributing food/napkins/etc) for a car-picnic. :) You got to play after, then it was time for him to go back to work. We left at about the same time and WHOA nelly was your sister crabby. It is completely NOT her routine to be out and about right before naptime (12:00), so she was extremely overtired and pissed. She was inconsolable for about half the drive home. You had your hands over your ears because you said it was hurting your ears. Me too. Eventually she was consoled by playing peekaboo with you, a favorite standby. We came home, I put her to bed, and you and I started our playtime. Of course I didn't enforce a naptime for you on your birthday, I'm no monster. We tried to play Uno, but as I read the instructions, I soon realized my brain has slowly atrophied (so we're clear, I blame you & Avery, 100%), so I suggested we wait for your father to get home to explain the directions better than I could. Sad sad sad. I DO possess a Bachelors! But years of staying at home, armpit deep in the often-odorous requirements of raising children makes your brain leak. Then I tried to open a Domino Rally set you got, and those instructions practically made me comatose. You were all too happy to play Go fish though, thankfully. You got to play some more Wii, then we watched Peter Pan on the iPad, in bed cuddling. It was a fun chunk of our day.
Avery was up, we had snacks at the picnic table in the kitchen, as usual. Then we went outside to play, as it was pretty nice weather. We were just playing around in the front when I had the idea to go get snow-cones. Why not?! You flipped over this idea. So off we went. Avery was, again, crabbin' it up. Not too content to be back in the carseat. We got our snow-cones (you smiled SO big when the lady put 4 gummi-bears on yours, when you told her it was your birthday, completely unprompted) and sat out in the sun for a bit, and then came back home to play some more. 
We had told you that you could pick wherever you wanted to go for dinner, and I knew before you even spoke that it was 1 of 2 places..  'Old' McDonalds or Joe's pizza. I was really crossing my fingers for the latter. (sidenote: Joe's is where your father and I ate, when we were researching where to build our home/start our family. We visited the neighborhood and after seeing the models/getting the sales pitch, we ate at Joes and talked about if this area was the best fit for us.) So anyways, you picked Joe's. Their plain cheese pizza is as authentic New York as you can get, this far South, and you & your sis just love it. Avery was being a ham the entire time, dramatically turning in her highchair every time the door opened, so that she could wave and say HIIIII! to everyone who walked inside. We had a good family dinner. I thought it'd be fun, as a special treat, to go to the park on the way home, because it was a gorgeous day outside still. We went to the 'yellow park', in the neighborhood just south of us. We had it all to ourselves. We played hide & seek and had a really good time. We reminded you that we still had brownies at home for dessert and you grabbed your belly and very responsibly stated that you'd have to wait and see, that you were very full.
We came home and cut you a little brownie, and put 5 candles in it. The night of your birthday party, the Saturday before, we asked you what your BEST favorite moment of your party was, and you said when everyone sang to you. I thought that was so sweet. We sang Happy Birthday to you and you beamed the entire time, just soaking up the attention. You didn't eat the brownie, as you were still too full.
We had a great day, just being. It's so wonderful that you put such a high value in just spending time together. The simple act of reading you books sometime, breaking from the household chores and whatnot, just means so much to you it's palpable.
At dinnertimes lately, we do this thing called 'High and Lows'..  we each (most of the time me and you, as dinnertime during the week with your father has become rare, and Avery's language is limited!) say the High (the best) part of the day and the Low (worst) part. If it's a day that you didn't take a nap, and we spent that time playing and doing things, just the two of us (while Avery slept), you will ALWAYS say that was the High - spending time with me. Even if you got to do other super fun things, in this stage of your life, I actually win over them. I know it's a short stage. You'll usually say your Low was a time of the day when you got in trouble over something. You are a super sensitive little dude, and getting in trouble stays with you. You talk about it for weeks sometimes. I am grateful it's all minor offenses, because if you had a penchant for truly naughty doings, well, I just think you'd emotionally crumble with the consequences (which, before I forget, is an instant tension melter. You think this word is hilarious beyond reason, so sometimes all I have to do is say the word CONSEQUENCES and the tension melts into ridiculous laughter.) Sometimes, in the middle of being verbally disciplined for something that you think is not worthy of discipline, you'll very clearly tell me that you are in the middle of your low for the day. You'll say 'Mommy. This is my low. Right now. My low for today.' It's so hard to not laugh to your face.
Kid, you are something else. The best big brother a little sis could ask for. The best son a set of parents could dream of. Sweet. Smart. Kind. Funny. Clever. Silly. Joyful. Sensitive. And about a thousand other things, some I don't even know about yet. But I'm so very excited. Happy 5th birthday, loves.