Category Archives: Milestones and Development

Developmental, et al.

Letters of Apology

I don’t usually write two posts in one day, let alone in one week sometimes, but this is post-worthy.

sadfaceZack came home from Kindergarten with another yellow card today. It’s his second one this year (as in 2013, calendar year, not school year). I could tell he was upset. I was upset. I was disappointed. I was frustrated.

Zack is young. He’s the youngest one (literally) in his class. The one thing we are always watching out for is how easily influenced he is. Every morning when we get to school, before we get out of the car, we have a conversation about making good choices. Just because someone makes a bad choice doesn’t mean you have to do the same. “You are your own person and can make your own good choices.” I tell him over and over and over. I feel like he gets it – he understands, at least when we are discussing it. BUT, he is constantly getting stuck following other kids’ bad choices, which sometimes lands Zack in trouble.

I know Zack is a smart boy. I know he understands the difference between right and wrong. I know he understands rewards… today he learned a big lesson about consequences.

We get home from school (and from picking Brayden up from school too) and before we even get in the house, “Can I play, Mom?” “No. There is no playing today.” I get Brayden settled with a snack and a movie and go digging in my office for a small pad of lined paper. I tell Zack to sit at the counter (as he does most days after school to have his snack and do his homework), but this time is a little different. I write out a little note that he must copy: Dear Mrs. B, Sorry for throwing food at lunch today. I will make better choices. -Zackery (Yes, you read that right, my sweet little boy, with whom I snuggled with most of the morning yesterday, took part in a lunch room game of catch-the-broccoli).

I made Zack sit quietly and write a letter of apology to his teacher, and all five of the other kids in his class who took part. I made him sit there until all six letters of apology were done. By the time he finished it was already dinner time, so from the kitchen counter to the table he went. He moped as he ate, and I attempted to talk to him more about the earlier incident. He didn’t remember everything, but he said he knew that what he did was wrong. “What was going through your head when you were throwing food?” I asked him. He didn’t know, other than telling me “Well *kid’s name here* started it first!”

I made him sit at the table while Brayden and I finished our dinner. He wasn’t happy about that. He wanted to play. There is no playing today. I made him sit at the table with nothing to do for another half hour after dinner was over. Brayden was playing, but not Zack. Zack was learning about consequences.

I don’t know if I was right to make him sit at the table for so long or not, but what I do know is that I truly hope he understands now what it means to NOT follow bad choices. I also don’t know if his teacher will give out the letters of apology to the other five kids (the other five kids who also played catch-the-broccoli), but for me it’s more about Zack writing those notes and understanding why.

Once bedtime came and both boys had their jammies on it was a pretty normal evening – if ever there is one. We sat on the couch and read books. Zack even read two books out loud to us (I am really proud at how well he is doing with his reading, and I made sure to tell him that as I tucked him in). Zack and Brayden are both comfy-cozy in their beds. Let’s hope for different – better – choices tomorrow.

Dear Boys

The last post I wrote was a letter to my Mother. Today, I feel the desire to write a letter to my boys…

Dear Zackery and Brayden,

Wow. WOW! You both are just so amazing. Zack, I can’t believe you are five years old and in Kindergarten and already learning so much. It astonishes me how well you write your name (considering four weeks ago you could barely write it at all, let alone even have the desire to want to try) – good job! And Brayden, you amaze me with your words and your logic and reasoning (you must get that from me – ha ha!). Just the other day I yawned, you said “What Mommy?” “I’m tired.” I replied. And you succinctly told me “Well you should just go right to sleep!” (Oh, don’t I wish!)

We have several friends who are pregnant, just had babies, or who are contemplating having another. The thought always crosses my mind about having a third, but I am so happy and content and complete with our family. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you (you may still both be too young to understand), but I loved being pregnant with you both. The feeling of knowing I was growing a baby – our baby – inside of me; that was the most wonderful feeling in the world. Physically, my body started to say “that’s enough.”

Zackery, I remember one of the first thoughts I had just moments after you were born was “next time I’m going to do better.” (Can you see the competitive side of me??? I really had a wonderful, natural birth, yet I was all ready to do it again even better the next time). Brayden, one of the first thoughts I had just moments after you were born was “I’m done.” (Meaning, I don’t need any more kids. I don’t want to do this again. I can’t put my body through this again.)

Both of your births were amazing, 100% natural and couldn’t have been any more perfect for bringing you into our world. I am glad our family is complete.

As you both get older, things are getting easier. Daddy and I are both looking forward to all the things we can do with you. The places we can go, the adventures we can have, the memories we will all create together as a family. I don’t want to change the beautiful family path we are all on.

So, I just want to say: I love you both with all my heart. Keep on growing, but not too fast…

Love, Mommy

Can it Get Any Better?

Wow, what a week, and it’s only half-way through! So far, Zack has had two days of Kindergarten, and he loves it – doing great (thank goodness). But did I really have any doubts? Nope. I just picked him up and dropped him at home with the babysitter (may I remind you of my babysitter extraordinaire – I love her!) and now I’m sitting at the local coffee shop, enjoying an iced soy mocha, with (even more) time to myself for a couple hours. Seriously, could it get any better?

Well, YES! Not only do we have the seriously momentous milestone of Zackery starting Kindergarten this week, but also… wait for it… we have Brayden who accomplished a most impressive task. He (warning: Mommy talk coming) pooped in the potty!!! Yes, my little two-year old went number two like a big boy. We were both so proud (and relieved – him probably more than me – had to squeeze that one in – sorry, I’m just on a roll here – oh my, stop, stop! – oh how I make myself laugh!). So, we have older brother going to Kindergarten and little brother progressing on his potty training (for which I haven’t even really been pushing him to do), and I ask again, could it get any better?

Well, YES! Did you catch that I mentioned I was at a coffee shop? Translated, that means no kids. Solo. How in the world did I manage to go from two crazy (but wonderfully loving) boys all summer long driving me crazy to several hours in a row, two days in a row, of pure uninterrupted Me Time? I must admit yesterday was quite strange for me. Coming home from dropping off Zack to his first day of school, with just Brayden and I in the house all alone, was weird. It was almost too quiet (this coming from someone whose head would almost explode from constant noise all day long). It really was weird. Nice, but weird. So here I sit, by myself, knowing that Brayden is probably just now waking up from his nap and Zackery is probably playing motorcycles, both happily at home with Babysitter Extraordinaire. Could it get any better?

Well, YES! My husband and I finally have a planned night away. Just me and him, husband and wife. I am very much looking forward to it. It’s not for a few weeks, but I’m excited just thinking about going out as a couple and feeling like a woman again, and not so much as Mommy. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being Mommy, but sometimes a girl a woman needs to feel like a woman. Okay, so I have to pause here, because I now have two songs stuck in my head: Shania Twain’s ‘I Feel Like A Woman’ and Brad Paisley’s ‘It Did’ – yes, you got me, I’m a country music fan. So yes, in a few weeks I get to go out and drink wine and have adult conversations and enjoy the company of the man I fell in love with. How wonderful! Will it get any better?

Well, I sure hope so. I’ve had a challenging summer, but I made it through. The boys and I are both stronger for it, we’ve all grown and we’ve all learned. I can only imagine things getting better. I’ve been at the bottom, and I’ve climbed back up, but there’s still a lot more upward climbing to do in my life. So yes, it can get better, and it will. I can’t wait!

 

*Sidenote: I feel I need to note that the images in this post are not my own. Thanks internet.*

Dear Zackery – Happy Day Before Kindergarten

I can’t believe you are getting so big. In less than 2 weeks you will be 5. Five, yes FIVE! In less than 24 hours you will be at your very first day of Kindergarten. Big boy school, not just preschool. This is real school, with classrooms and a library, a computer lab and a lunchroom. Wow, I just can’t believe it’s here. I know you are excited. I’m excited for you. I’m so proud of you and all that you have already learned. I can’t wait to see what you learn next.

I’m also a bit sad. I’m sure it’s normal. I’m sure I’ll have some tears in my eyes tomorrow. I’m also sure I’ll have a big huge smile! 🙂

I think we’re all set for tomorrow. We’ve already dropped off your school supplies, you have a brand new Cars 2 backpack, and we have everything you need for a hearty breakfast, a nutritious lunch and a yummy snack tomorrow. You’ve met your teacher, seen the classroom and been on the playground. I’m not sure how else I can prepare you (except of course with a million hugs and kisses – which I’ll try to do without causing a scene).

I love you so much little buddy. Mommy and Daddy (and Brayden) are all so proud of you. You are officially a Kindergartner now. Have fun and go learn!

Four Weeks And Counting

My little baby (my first little baby), my big snugglebug, is going to Kindergarten. In four weeks. I can’t wait. And then, I get sad and nostalgic and all I want to do is snuggle him up in my arms and lay next to him.

Yes, in four weeks, my Zackery goes to school. We are all excited. He is excited to have a classroom with a bunny and a new playground and a big lunchroom to eat in and having to make new friends. He likes making new friends. Way to go Zack! When I was his age, I don’t think I was as excited about making new friends as he is – although I don’t really remember my first day of Kindergarten (It was a while ago. Not a looooong time ago, but long enough). I’ve asked him about making new friends, and he says he likes to. There was a moment when I was worried about him: Brayden and Zack went to a day camp and I stayed with them both the first day. They both clung to me like elmer’s glue – cuz, you know, there’s nothing quite like the real elmer’s stuff. It was a good hour or so before Zack left my side, but when he did, he was off and running with a new friend. So, I’m not really worried anymore. He’ll do great.

In four weeks, I will be dropping him off at 9am and picking him up at 3pm, five days a week. It will be great – to have some time. Time with just Brayden, time to myself (Brayden still naps a good 2-3 hours a day… on a “good” day), time to re-energize and be excited to have both kids together for a whirlwind afternoon into evening before bed. Time. Just plain time. I’m excited that Zack will be learning new things. I like to think I am teaching him good social skills and “best manners,” but when it comes to the academic stuff we aren’t the best team for each other. I recognize that. I’m okay with that.

In four weeks, my baby goes to Kindergarten. I will be happy, I will be sad, but most of all, I will be a proud Mama.

Let Them Be

The issue of weaning is something that continues even past breastfeeding. As a “good” parent you’re supposed to wean your child off pacifiers, bottles and milk in the middle of the night. As the good parent I am (yes, I’m gonna own that one!), I of course was concerned with weaning Brayden off his bottle, and I especially wanted to do it before he turned two (that’s the deadline-oriented person in me… always setting unrealistic goals for myself). With Zackery weaning was easy. He took a sippy cup (and the bottle for that matter) no problem, and could care less where his milk was coming from, as long as he was getting it. He didn’t care if it was warm or ice cold straight from the fridge. Brayden, on the other hand, was a bit more picky (this certainly cannot be a genetic trait – ha!).

As his birthday rapidly approached, and amongst the chaos of our move, I hadn’t really come up with a plan or schedule (yes, schedules RULE) of how and when to start the weaning process. When my In-Laws were visiting in May, my husband and I just randomly began giving Brayden his milk out in the living room with big brother Zack (in hopes to at least be able to brush his teeth after all his milk). It kinda worked, but he still wanted that dark, snuggle time with his bottle in his room. I don’t blame him. The timing was probably not the best, and it wasn’t even really something we “planned” out, we just did it, and eventually he got the idea. No milk after we brush our teeth.

I think part of what helped Brayden with that transition and change in his bed time routine was watching Zack. He adores his brother (sometimes to a fault) and wants to do everything big brother does. So when we explained that Zack doesn’t have milk after he brushes his teeth, well then Brayden decided it was okay for him to have the same routine. He loves brushing, so now I feel better that the brushing is actually doing what it’s supposed to! And the dentist will thank me. 🙂

The next step was weaning him from the bottle to a sippy cup. Surprisingly enough, he mostly did this himself. It was another case of “I want to be just like big brother.” Zack had a cool sippy cup with his milk, and Brayden wanted the same thing. I remember the day it happened (not the date, but I probably wrote it on the calendar!). I was getting Brayden’s milk ready for his nap. He still gets milk after lunch and before nap. I put cold milk right into his bottle, and he pushed it away saying “No, Mommy.” I offered it again, and again he refused. I asked him if he wanted a sippy, and he said (very enthusiastically) “Yes!” I asked him if he wanted his bottle at all anymore, and he declared “No.” So, that was the last of the bottle. I put him down for his nap, washed the last bottle and set them aside to give away. Weaning done, and oh how easy it was!

It’s funny, all this stressing I did (or used to do) was really pointless. I guess it’s different with your first child, and probably each child is different all on their own anyway. Brayden turned two last week, and he’s been off the bottle for almost three weeks. In fact, it was the week we moved that he weaned himself. Yes, I said it correctly, he weaned himself. He decided when he was ready. He let me know that he wanted to be a big boy. And can I say, how easy and welcoming that entire experience was for both of us. There was no struggling, no feeling like I was depriving him, and he got to feel proud and all grown up.

Brayden has been such a blessing to me in so many ways. Aside from the obvious fact of just pure life, Brayden has taught me to just let go. It was the same way with the breastfeeding early on, and then the night wakings and finally sleeping through the night. I just let him lead the way. I decided that I would let him tell me when he was ready for transitioning. It was hard for me to release control of everything and not do things “by the book,” but the more I let myself just be there, present with him, the easier things got for both of us.

My Happy Boy Brayden!

I could go on and on about the lessons he taught me and the ways I realized he was ready for something new, but instead I will just leave it at this: Our children are amazing, beautiful, smart, intuitive beings. If we observe them, listen to them, remain present with them and guide them, they will do what’s right for them. So what if your child doesn’t compare to the child next door. SO WHAT? Every child is different. Every child has different needs, and every child will reach their milestones at different times. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they are healthy, you are healthy, and that you love each other.

I say, let them be.

Happy Birthday Brayden!

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday my sweet, dear, little angel baby Brayden,
Happy Birthday you’re two!

I can’t believe that two years ago today, we worked together, you and I, to bring you into the world for your very 1st breath. Your very 1st moment, your very 1st experience. For the very 1st time we got to see your precious little face and gaze into those beautiful, innocent, big blue eyes. For the 1st time, I felt like our family was now complete.

You have grown so much. You are a toddler! Wow! Just to say that – it’s weird. You’re my little baby snugglebug. You and your brother will always be my babies.

Your words, your thoughts – they amaze me. The way you speak in full sentences and hold conversations – it just blows me away (in such a good way). You are so smart and funny and kind and loving and caring and all the things my little snugglebug should be. You have your favorite songs (Farmer in the Dell and B-I-N-G-O) your favorite books (the Truck Book from the library that unfortunately we had to return but I promise I will check it out again) your favorite lovey (Bunny – I remember when you looked so little and Bunny was so much bigger – now he is this tiny little ruffled, no longer pristine, white bunny that gets flopped around with you) your favorite shows (Thomas the Train and Curious George) and of course your favorite people (Mommy, Daddy and Zackery). I can’t say you’re my favorite (cuz that’s just not true – Zack is my favorite too), but you’re my favorite toddler!!!

Brayden, I love you so, so much. I love the snuggles and hugs and kisses you give. I love your little voice, your soft baby skin and your oh-I-could-grab-them-forever little thighs.
Happy Birthday my dear sweet two-year-old. xoxo

Proud Mommy Moment

Brayden went potty in the potty today!

I was totally not expecting him to actually go, but he watched big brother Zack go, and then what-do-you-know, the little guy went himself! Wow, I am PROUD!

He’s been asking to go to the potty a few times lately, but nothing happens, and I don’t expect it to – he’s only 21 months and we haven’t even started potty training yet. But today, after dinner, we were getting ready for bed and I asked him if he wanted to go pee in the big potty, he said yes and walked over to the bathroom. I stripped him down, held his hands while he stood on the step stool and aimed him at the toilet. That alone was a happy sight, and I would have been plenty pleased just leaving it at that. But no, he had to impress me even more when he actually went pee in the toilet – standing up like a big boy. OMG! Wow, I am just so proud, have I mentioned that?

Wow, my little guy went pee in the potty today…

Sleepovers and Playdates

WOW, is it really Tuesday night (almost Wednesday now) already? I started this post Sunday morning, but then “life” got in the way of me actually finishing and posting it! Brayden’s been fighting a little stomach bug the last couple of days, and last night (hopefully) was the worst of it. I’m praying that tonight he sleeps peacefully, now that it’s all out of his system (literally).

So, pretend it’s Sunday…

8:30am this morning, my eyes barely open, I look at the clock. POP! I’m up and out of bed. “Time to get up,” I tell Will as I gently open the curtains. “We have to go get Zack.”

“Why?” he asks.

“M and T are coming over at 9:15am!” (*names kept private*)

Zack had a sleepover at the neighbor’s house right next door. They have 3 kids, their youngest, also a boy, a few years older than Zack. They had been playing together for several hours yesterday afternoon while Brayden was sleeping and Will and I cleaned out the garage (I must say it is sooo nice to be able to park my car in the garage again – just before winter!). Will and I had a party to go to, and we were invited to bring along our boys, but I thought, how nice would it be to just have one at the party? I walked over and told the neighbor I had a proposal, to which she could say “no” if it wouldn’t work for her and her family.

Lucky for me, she was happily open to hosting a sleepover. We both double-checked with Zack, just to make sure he would be okay sleeping somewhere other than at home, and almost before we could finish asking him, he was excitedly nodding his head “yes!” He has spent the night away from home, without Mommy or Daddy, a few times before, so I knew he would be fine.

I slipped back home and packed a quick overnight bag with jammies, pull-up, toothbrush, blanket, pillow, 2 buddies (Doggie & Teddy – yes, those are the unique names that Zack himself gave them), and clothes for the morning. Back next door, I gave instructions to Zack, the neighbor, and once more to Zack. I gave him a big hug and kiss and told him to have fun and I’d see him in the morning.

About and hour later, Will, Brayden and I were off to our party. It seemed oddly surreal to not have Zack with us, especially because it was so much quieter in the car! We arrived at the party and were greeted by happy friends, all wondering where Zack was? We told everyone he was at a sleepover, and most people responded similarly with “oh, he’s such a big boy!” Yes, he is…

As the party began to die down (it was pretty mellow to start with), and the time started getting closer and closer to being way past Brayden’s bed time, we agreed it was time to go. We changed Brayden into his jammies so he could fall asleep for the short 15 min car ride, buckled him into his car seat, and drove home.

Walking into our dark, quiet house, I again had a surreal feeling. It was so peaceful; I welcomed the silence, but still there was a slight emptiness. I knew Zack was safe and sound next door (and hopefully sound asleep) so I just whispered good night to him one more time and blew him a traveling kiss.

Aside from knowing that we had two other little friends coming over for a play date in just 45 min, what really got me up and out of bed was wanting to give Zack a big, giant, good morning hug! As soon as I was dressed (it really doesn’t take long to throw on a comfy old pair of house sweats – not always proud of this, but hey, it’s real) and Will was up and taking care of Brayden, I bounced down our front steps, navigated across our front yard, and knocked on the neighbors door. Zack was still in his full-footed, camouflage jammies, playing space Lego’s (or something of that sort). I asked how his night was, and in his usual 4-year old response, he said “good.”

I got him dressed and his makeshift bed on the floor somewhat cleaned up. I re-packed his overnight bag and got the full report from the neighbor. “He was perfect,” were her exact words. Wow! I was so proud of him, he really is growing up!

I knew he had fun because he didn’t want to leave. He kept wanting to show me “one more thing.” I finally got him out the door when we could see his friend’s car (well, actually, the parent’s car…) pulling up into our driveway. He was so excited to share that he was just coming home from a big boy sleepover. And then, of course, he asked when he could have his next one. 🙂

How old were your kids when they had their first sleepover?

Conversations With a Four-Year Old

I love that Zackery is at the age now where we can have real conversations. Not just conversations about toy tractors and motorcycles, but actual semi-adult interaction.

We were driving to the KidZone Museum yesterday morning, and as the fog began to dissipate and the sun began to warm the chilly mountain air, I glanced back at Zack sitting next to Brayden in the back seat, both of them buckled securely in their car seats, and said “Zack, it’s going to be a beautiful day.” “Yeah, look at the clear blue sky!” he replied. Wow, I thought, did my four-year old actually say that?

“Zack, look at the snow on the mountain tops,” I said again.

“Ma Ma, we saw that when we went to Grandpa’s last time,” he said excitedly.

“Yes, we did,” I replied.

“When we go back to Grandpa’s next time, I want to go to another wedding,” he stated.

“Oh, okay. Whose wedding do you want to go to?” I asked.

“Mine!” he answered.

I giggled and asked, “Your wedding? Who are you going to marry?”

“I don’t know,” he said, “I just want to have a big party and dance!”

I concluded by saying, “Well, that sounds like a fun plan, Zack.”

And he ended by saying, “Yes, Mommy. I want you to come to my wedding with me.”

Nothing more could have put a smile on my face as big as I had after that conversation. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to talk to my son and have such an innocent, joyous dialogue. I can tell that his little brain is expanding with so much knowledge and new experiences. I have a hard time believing he is four, but when we have a magical morning like yesterday, it makes me proud. My little man is four and growing up (sometimes too fast…).

Zackery, I love you! Keep on talking…

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