September 23, 2012

Dear Bennett, Month 36

Dear Ben,

I cannot believe you are three.  I'm sure I'll say that every year, but I'm stunned by it. I'm not sure I've met a 3-year-old cuter than you.  There are so many things that you do and say that make us smile.  The voice that you use when you're pretending with your toys, is this deep throaty voice . . . and it applies to any imaginary character or situation.  The voice you use when you talk to Claire is high pitched and, well, a little bnoxious.  You also have this quiet, shy voice that you use when you're asking for something that you know you know that you probably shouldn't have.

You started preschool and you started using the potty all in one week this last month.  Potty training went remarkably well.  We've only had one accident at night and none during nap time.  You've had relatively few daytime accidents.  I can't help but marvel at how easy it's been.

You started preschool without problems, too.  Every day when I pick you up, you say, "I had fun!" and little else.  Every so often, you'll mention the name of another child that you play with or what you had for snack, but that's about it.  Your teacher says you're doing well, so I guess I'll just take her word for it.

I still sing to you sometimes at night.  You ask for it regularly and it makes me feel good that you like it so much.  Someday you'll realize that I don't sing well, but until then, I'll oblige.

One of your favorites for me to sing is "Step by Step."  Here are the words to the chorus:

Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise you
Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise you
And I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days

And I will follow You all of my days
And I will follow You all of my days
And step by step You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days 

You always sing this one with me and some of my most special memories with you will always be laying with you, almost nose-to-nose, while you sing "I will follow You all of my days." Every time we sing that together and I hear your little voice singing the words "I will follow you all of my days," tears well up and I pray that it will be so.

I love you Bennett!  Happy Birthday!


September 6, 2012

Claire at 8 months old

At 8 months old, Claire . . .

. . . crawls faster than we can keep up.  She'll crawl a few yards and then stop to look back and see if anyone is coming after her.

. . . pulls herself up on pretty much anything, whether it's stationary or not.

. . . semi-cruises, but mostly around things and not really between two things yet.

. . . when crawling, pushes her self up on the soles of her feet and using only one hand so that it looks like she's about to get up and walk away.

. . . has once again, found her voice.  Every time we think that she couldn't get any louder, she proves us wrong.  She jabbers like crazy.

. . . really missed her brothers while they were gone last weekend and looked all over for them.

. . . wears 12 month clothing.

. . . will clap her hands, but only when she feels like it.  Never on demand.  She sometimes uses clapping to sign for more.  If we don't see her signing that soon enough, she just shoves both fists into her mouth and cries.

. . . loves cheerios and peas and would probably eat them in unlimited quantities if we let her.

. . . also likes bananas and peaches, and would probably like them more if it didn't take so much effort for her to get them into her mouth.

. . . enjoys gnawing on wooden toys.  I think she enjoys the sound that her teeth make on them, too.

. . . still sleeps 12 - 13 hours at night and takes 2 hour-ish long naps during the day.

. . . nursed for the last time on her 8 month birthday.  She's doing better with it than I am.

. . . raises her arms high above her head about 30% of the time when someone says, "soooo big."

. . . continues to be super agreeable and easy going, but has shown a little more fiestiness that I think is preparing us for what is yet to come.

September 5, 2012

The first day

Jack made it through his first day and was excited to go back this morning!  The chaos of drop off and the stress of having a newly potty trained two-year-old really distracted me from being emotional, though when we were back on the road leaving, I did shed a few tears.  But just a few.

The things that broke my heart:

  • His little cluster of desks where he sits includes him and three girls.  He asked each of the three girls if they could be friends.  They all said no.
  • He really liked recess, but didn't have anyone to play with.
The things that encouraged me:
  • He did say that he made one new friend that he really liked.
  • He said that everything they did in class was fun.
  • He really likes his teacher.
  • He ate lunch with a friend from preschool, even though he's in a different class than he is.
  • He seemed really excited that he saw Jasmine, Hailey and Samantha at recess.
  • He informed us that we no longer need to pack a lunch because THERE IS PIZZA AT SCHOOL!  We informed him that we'll probably still be packing a lunch most days, but maybe once in a while he could get pizza.
  • He chose white milk instead of chocolate at snack because he thought it would be healthier choice to only have chocolate once a week (we had previously discussed this with him, but we weren't sure if he'd really do it . . . but he did).
  • He LOVED gym class.
  • He has a doodle book to draw in during their rest time and that was right up his alley.

I'm sure there were more things that he told us, but I can't remember them all.  He was so funny when he told me that he can't wait until next year so that he can do a first day of school all over again!  I'm just glad to have the first day over with.

I love this kid so much.

Edited to add:  Printable signs now available here.

September 4, 2012

Staying Dry

Day #1 of potty training was hugely successful.  Shockingly so, really.  Ben had very few accidents and went both #1 and #2 on the potty!  I had no expectations that we would conquer #2 anytime soon, so that was fantastic.

He was dry during his nap and overnight (we did get him up once before we went to bed and he went then).  When he woke up this morning, he came out dry and I think saw how dark the hall was and just wet himself right there in the doorway.  Tonight, we'll leave the hall light on.

Today, on the other hand . . . well, let's just say it's keeping me humble.  Naptime was dry, but I think that might have been our only success.  He walked into the kitchen after naptime and said, "I don't have to go!" and then proceeded to pee right there on the kitchen floor.  I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we've resumed our regular schedule today.  Yesterday, Kyle took both Claire and Jack and kept them out of the house for a lot of the day and Ben had my undivided attention.

He starts preschool a week from today, and while potty training isn't a requirement to go, I think it'll be helpful since he was ready anyway.

September 3, 2012


I've spent the last few weeks fighting the urge to impart last bits of wisdom to Jack about anything and everything that I can think of.  You know . . . thoughts on making friends, resisting peer pressure and not dating a girl who doesn’t consider modesty a virtue.

You know . . . the real kindergarten essentials.

I know it’s only Kindergarten, but this stage . . . this pre-school stage . . . it’s over.  I never thought that I’d be THAT parent . . . the one that stresses over Kindergarten.  I so badly want my kids to be independent and confident, and I didn't think I'd approach Jack's first year of school fighting the urge to not let him get out of the car tomorrow.

I cannot believe that I’ve been a mom for five years.  I cannot believe that I’m sending a child to Kindergarten.  I cannot believe that one of my children will spend so much time away from me every day.  I’ve found myself reconsidering homeschooling.  I’ve wondered if we should wait a year.

I've spent much of the last two months hoping that we've done enough and getting down on myself for the games of Candyland I said "no" to and the books I didn't read.

I know, I know . . . drama, drama, drama. 

Tonight, I was talking with him about what he was most excited about for tomorrow.  I asked him if he was scared at all.  He replied, "No. But I know there are probably other kids who are."  As we talked about the kids who are nervous (and I suspect he is a little too, but won't admit it), I was struck by his ability to see outside himself.  I love how compassionate and kind he is.

Then it hit me: We did that.  Well, not totally.  Some of it is surely innate.  But Kyle and I are also responsible for who this incredible little boy has become . . . and I think we've done a good job.  Have we done enough?  I don't know.  I do know, however, that the grace of God has filled in where we've fallen short.  We're really good parents.

As I've reflected on all of these things, I became thankful for my job's flexibility that has allowed me to spend so much time with him.  The late nights and early mornings of work suddenly seem like a small price to pay to have been there for so much of his time at home.  I'm thankful for the incredible babysitters we've had to fill in the other times.  I'm thankful for a husband who loves his kids so well and takes as much responsibility with the kids as I do, never just assuming that their care is "my job."

Jack starts Kindergarten tomorrow and Ben starts preschool next week.  My babies are growing up.