July 27, 2012

Dear Claire, Months 5, 6 & 7

Dear Claire,

It happened.  You've become the "typical third child" category with my delay in monthly letters.  If you knew how guilty this made me feel, you'd totally forgive me.  Yes, you have fewer letters than your brothers, and I'll probably take less pictures of you than I did of them, but when they've gone off to college and you're the only one living at home, getting anything you want, you'll be glad to make that trade off.

Claire, the 5th Month

Let me remind you of an important advantage of being the youngest . . . you have four people who absolutely adore you.  In the eyes of your brothers, you can do no wrong.  They're the first to try and calm you when you cry and the first to applaud you when you do . . . well, anything.

Claire, month 6

The last three months have brought so much change that I don't even know where to begin.  You're sitting up, eating solid foods, almost-crawling, giving sloppy kisses, squealing with delight, waving 'hi' and 'bye', and babbling like crazy.  You're a different kid than you were the last time I wrote.

Something that has NOT changed is that you are HAPPY. About 92% of the time.  With the exception of evening crying when you were 6 - 12 weeks old, you've been one of the happiest babies I've ever met.  Sure you fuss sometimes and can get frustrated when your needs aren't being immediately met, but in general, your disposition is lovely.  I can't get enough of you.  I keep waiting for everything to just come crashing down and for you to become more of a challenge.  Maybe it'll be when you start crawling more.  Maybe when you hit the terrible twos.  Maybe your teenage years will be full of angst.  But for now, I'm enjoying your sweetness.

Claire, 7 months old

Perhaps your good nature is a result of the massive amounts of sleep you get.  You sleep 11 - 12 hours at night and then take 2 decent naps during the day.  Sometimes 3, but usually just the 2.  You fall asleep within minutes of me laying you down and you wake up all gurgley and smiley. 

Claire, 7 months old

I sing to you most nights, but it doesn't last very long because you like to be laid down pretty quickly.  Rocking isn't really your "thing."  I can normally only get through one verse of any given hymn.  But when I lay you down, I always end with the doxology.  As I sing the words "Praise God from whom all blessing flow" I can't help but count you as one of those blessings.  You bring us all so much joy, Claire.  And even if you wake up cranky tomorrow, or you become a defiant two year old or grow into a moody teenager . . . we'll still be delighted by you!


July 25, 2012


I am the anti-hoarder.  I like to throw things away.  I mean . . . really, really like to throw things away.

I'm not super organized or neat.  My house is often a mess (by my standards, at least).  But I really, really like to simplify life by having less laying around . . . much to the dismay of my kids.

Happy meal toys last an average of 7 minutes once they're through the door.  Art projects are rarely saved for more than a day or two.  The really special ones do get left out for a while, but then move to storage.  When Jack was little, I had this grand vision of taking pictures of him with his art projects before we, um, "relocated" them, but I never kept the projects long enough to get around to photographing them.  A few times, we've had to dig through trash to find important lists or notes that Kyle has left laying around, because I thought they were trash and tossed them.  Back in May, I went through the boys' toys and got rid of half of them.  The other half were divided and stored according to our new toy storage system . . . which deserves an entire post of its own.

I do feel bad this week, though, after hearing about Jack's conversation with his grandma.  She told him that he left the mask he made in her car, and asked if he wanted it back.  His response was, "No.  If I bring it home, it'll just get thrown away."

Ugh.  That was like a kick in the stomach.

I don't really know how to find the balance, though.  Clutter makes me crazy.  I can't function in a cluttered house.  And honestly, what do you do when your child brings this home and wants to keep it forever and ever?

At the same time, I don't want my kids to feel like I don't value their creativity or have respect for what is theirs.  Will I look back 20 years from now and wish that I still had every preschool picture that Jack drew?  I don't think that I will.  But I don't want the boys to look back and remember a mom who was more intent on keeping the clutter down than on celebrating their creativity.

I hope that I can find that balance.  I would welcome any suggestions.

July 24, 2012

Dear Bennett, months 32, 33 & 34

Dear Ben,

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've written a letter . . . I've been busy.  Doing laundry.  And I'd say half of our family's laundry is YOURS.  You are the dirtiest little boy I've ever seen.  You like to play hard and you aren't afraid to get messy.  All of your summer t-shirts are stained, and the bathtub looks like a mud puddle after we get you cleaned off at night.  You always have sand between your toes.  And fingers.  And usually in your hair, too.  You're all boy.

Your independence has become both endearing and frustrating.  Your most common phrase is "I DO THAT ALL MY FELF!"  You don't like unsolicited help from other people.  I try to give you your space as much as I can.  You don't like to hold my hand ever . . . especially in parking lots.  Often if I tell you NOT to do something, you just stare me down and I can almost hear you wondering whether or not doing it will be worth the consequense.

Last night, we were in the car and you were especially ornery.  Perhaps because of the 10 empty peanut butter cup wrappers I found in your bed during nap time.  Or maybe because we had you out too late.  In any case, you were testing my patience and your limits.  You had your cup of water from the restaurant we were leaving and you took the lid off.  I told you to put the cup in your cup holder and put the lid back on the cup.  You looked at me, and with a perfectly straight face you tipped the cup upside down all over the seat and floor of the car.  So, I channeled my remarkable parenting skills and began yelling at you. 

I yelled.  And you threw the cup.  And I yelled more. And you continued to throw everything that was within your reach.

Not my finest parenting moment.  Not exactly a shining moment for you, either.

When these things happen, I always worry that you're "acting out" against something . . . like us not giving you enough attention.  Or that we've steered you wrong somehow.  But I think it's just the terrible twos. I think these are just exercises for your dad and I in patience and consistency.

Much to your dismay, you went to bed as soon as we got home.  You hugged me and told me how much you love me and I told you how much I love you.  All was right with the world again.  I hope that no matter what happens over the course of your life, that you'll always know that.  No matter what you do, or how much you throw at me, I'll always love you.


July 14, 2012

Claire at 6 months old

Claire, 6 months old

At 6 1/2 months old, Claire . . .

. . . makes all kinds of noises, ranging from high pitched shrieks to low grunts that her brothers call her "lion noise."  She also makes "goos" and "da das" . . . but her favorite is "ya ya ya ya ya . . . "

. . . will get up on her hands and knees but can only move in reverse.

. . . weighed 19 pounds, 4 ounces at her 6 month check up.

. . . is super smiley and is rarely bothered by anything or anyone.  The 100 degree temperatures tested it last week, but she was still in good spirits.

. . . measured 27 inches long. at her last check up.

. . . has just shown a few signs of separation anxiety.

. . . eats solids, when we remember to feed them to her.  She eats really well at home, but not nearly as well at camp, where distractions are abundant.

. . . is super distracted while nursing and prefers a bottle.

. . . sometimes waves when people say "hi" and "bye" to her.

July 1, 2012

Dear Jack, Month 60

Dear Jack,

You are five years old.  I'm not sure how that happened so quickly, but it did.  When you were born, people always said things like, "This time flies by" and "Don't blink or you'll miss it."  I politely smiled and nodded, not really understanding what they meant.

But you're five now, and I get it.  I've written 52 monthly letters in your 60 months of life (hey . . . no one's perfect) and I still remember writing your first.  It feels like yesterday.  In it, I wrote about how full your dad and I felt after you were born.  Not necessarily complete.  We already felt complete.  The only word I could think of to describe it was "full."

Full of love and of awe . . . and of fear.  And we still feel that way today.  We love you more than you can know.  We're in awe of what an amazing little boy you're becoming . . . on some days because of us and on others, in spite of us. We also realize that we're only 5 years in and we still have many, many years ahead of us . . . uncharted territory.  We fear that a little.

This is going to be the last monthly letter I write to you here in this forum.  It's not because I don't have anything left to tell you.  I still have a lot to say.  It's because so many of the things I want to write to you about are private.  You're getting older and making friends.  And some of those friends have parents who read this blog.  And some of those friends might even find this blog themselves someday.  Some of the things Dad and I will be teaching you in the years to come are things that you might prefer not be broadcast across the Internet, and I get it.  I might still write you open letters every now and then, when appropriate.  They won't be monthly, though.  But for the most part, what I write to you will be kept private.

I know that I embarrass you sometimes . . . you're five now and you told me last week that sometimes I still treat you like you're 4 1/2.  My apologies.  I've become good at being a mom to babies, toddlers and preschoolers, but I'm still learning about this next stage.  Be patient with me.

Last day of preschool

You are the best five-year-old I know.  And I'm not just saying that because I'm your mom.  You're so funny and other people love to be around you.  Being your mom is a privilege.

If I had to wrap everything from my last 52 letters up into the three most important things I want you to know, it would be these:

1.  We love you so much.
2.  You are so capable.
3.  I don't care nearly as much about your future happiness or success as much as I care about what kind of person you're becoming.

I love you.  Have I mentioned that before?