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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

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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.

Bittersweet

It’s been a bittersweet month for me.

Zack rode the schoolbus with his Preschool class to a Kindergarten visit yesterday. It’s not the Kindergarten he’s going to be attending, it’s not even his first day of Kindergarten. I had tears in my eyes. He looked so tiny looking out the window excitedly waving as the bus drove off. He’s growing up.

We are moving. We’ve known we are moving for almost 2 years. It’s finally here. I’ve lived in the same house for 12 years. I bought this house before I even met my husband. This house is the only home my boys have ever known. The friends and support system I have created and built here are what got me through my PPD. We are moving right next door (literally) to my best friend. We’ll be saving money, there will be more conveniences and a little better weather, and my husband’s commute will be significantly reduced. I’m sad. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll miss where I am now.

There’s more… I don’t want a pity party… I just needed to get this out.

I am blessed to have choices and opportunities. I am thankful to have friends where ever I go. I’m making lemonade – the really good kind! 🙂

Turning lemon moments into lemonade!

Dear Zackery

Dear Zackery,

I wrote to your brother last week, so I thought this week it would be your turn. I don’t like to have to “take turns” with you boys, but sometimes I have no choice.

I just want to say how very proud I am of you. I know I’ve been saying that a lot lately and I really mean it. Whenever we go places – either to someone’s house or a restaurant or the KidZone or Discovery Museum or anywhere! – I never worry about you. That’s not to say I don’t care about you, of course I do, more than anything, but I don’t have to worry about how you will act, behave, treat others, etc. You are courteous, polite, respectful, and patient. I could go on…

I know that how you are is in some way a reflection of me. So pat on the back for Mama! Yay me! 🙂

I also know that how you are is because of YOU. You have a wonderful personality, always (well, for the most part) happy and excited. You get cranky when you’re tired and hungry – but hey, so do I. You are getting so good at playing with Brayden and helping him out. One of my most favorite times of the day is in the morning when you are so kind and loving towards him as he adores you so much. The way you make believe play with him, and use your imagination, and talk so gently and genuinely engage with him – it melts my heart and puts the biggest smile on my face. Most of the time I’m still in bed, but I am awake, lying there listening to you two. I wish every Mother could experience moments like that.

You have always been my first, and will always be my baby, but you are growing up so fast! You will be 5 years old this summer and starting kindergarten in the fall. Wow! I can’t believe it. You just went through a total growth spurt and I had to scramble to find you shoes and pants that fit; you are getting so big! But, you will always be my Big Snugglebug. 🙂

Thank you for being a wonderful son, brother, friend and human being.

I love you forever.

-Mommy xoxo

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…

Change is Good, Right?

A lot of things have been happening lately. Zackery turned four, on the very same day he “graduated” from Silly Beans; Brayden had his first day at Silly Beans on Friday; and Monday (tomorrow) Zackery starts “real” pre-school at Church of the Mountains. I say “real” because technically Silly Beans is a daycare, but he has learned so much there and Teacher Heather is really great with circle time teaching them, to us it’s always been like a pre-school.

Thursday was an emotional day for Mommy – and I don’t even really know why? Maybe it’s hormones. Yes, let’s just blame it on the hormones! J As I wrote in my last post, Zackery turned four on Thursday. My little baby was all grown up. Well, I guess not all grown up, but growing up. Change one – complete.

We all had a very sweet morning together and Will took Zackery to Silly Beans for the last time, in their usual routine.

At 5:00pm, Brayden and I went down to pick him up. I had been contemplating in my head what time to go get him. Should I go early? Should I go right at 5:30pm? Part of me was feeling like I didn’t want to get him – that I wanted to let him stay there as long as I could to let him play and enjoy his friends. Part of me wanted to get him early and just pick him up and snuggle him the rest of the evening like he was just a little baby. I knew that it would be the last time I picked him up from Silly Beans. Seriously, what was wrong with me? Why was I making such a BIG deal of this? It’s not like I was never going to be there again – heck I was going to be there the very next morning dropping off Brayden!

I had an empty tote bag with me and once Brayden was situated and I had taken a few pictures of Zackery with Teacher Heather, I started emptying Zackery’s bin. Heather looked at me, asking “you’re not doing that right now, are you?” I had been preparing myself for this all day (probably all week in actuality), and replied by telling her so, adding “if I don’t do this right now, it will probably never happen.” Okay, so change two was complete. Zackery had graduated and was officially “moved out” of Silly Beans.

Friday morning came all too suddenly (as it seems every morning does). Zackery and I had a wonderful “Mommy / Zack Day” planned at the Discovery Museum in Reno, but first we had to drop off Brayden at Silly Beans. I had been bringing him with me every time I went to pick up Zackery, so I knew that Brayden was used to being there, and Teacher Heather just adored him. I wasn’t too worried about him being in an unfamiliar place, but still, as I would expect any mother would, I was hesitant to leave my baby for the first time. I had given myself extra time to stay about 30 min to make sure everything was okay before Zackery and I left. Needless to say, Brayden was as happy as a clam and didn’t fuss at all when we left.

In between the flurry of exploration and fun that Zackery and I were having (I highly recommend the Nevada Discovery Museum to anyone in the Reno area!), I checked in with Teacher Heather to see how Brayden was doing. Every time she gave me a wonderful report – Brayden was doing just fine. He was exploring, coming back to check in with her, going out to explore another area, coming back to check in again. She said he was so happy. What a relief to know that things were going well and I could be completely present and enjoy the time I was having with Zackery. It’s not often the two of us get to spend such quality time together.

Roles reversed from the day before, Zackery came down with me to pick up Brayden. He was stuffed into an exersaucer, snack in hand, observing the older kids playing, grinning from ear to ear. What a happy sight! Change three – complete.

All summer long, we have been preparing Zackery to start “big school.” He has been mentally ready and anxious to go for months now. We have visited his new school, driven by it, practiced saying all the teacher’s names. He is ready – I mean, really ready!

Tomorrow morning will be his first day of pre-school. Drop-off is at 9:00am. It’s a good thing my Dad, Grandpa Fred (who just happens to be in town for Zackery’s birthday) is coming with us; he’ll help keep me strong, as well as be part of an extra special moment for Zackery. I’m sure I’ll take some pictures (to add to the thousands of other pictures I have of my boys), and I’m sure I’ll be wondering all day long how he’s doing. I’ll be there right at 3:00pm to pick him up, at which time I can officially say change four will be complete!

I know that change is inevitable, and change is supposed to be a good thing. Four big changes in five days is quite a lot for me right now, but I’m taking it in stride, as they are all wonderful things happening to my wonderful boys. What changes will life offer me next week? I’ll just have to wait and see…

Happy Birthday Zackery!

Happy Birthday Zackery!!! Today you are four years old – I can’t believe it!

It is such a big day for you, not only because it’s your birthday, but also because it is your graduation day from Silly Beans Learning Center. It has been 2-1/2 years since you started there, and I still remember your very first day. I think it was harder on me than anyone else. Dropping you off took forever because I didn’t want to leave you, but you seemed so happy and content. You have learned and grown so much there; making new friends, sharing your toys, cultivating your talents. I am sad this is your last day, but Monday you get to start BIG school – how super exciting!

I am so proud of you for all that you have accomplished. You are becoming more of a wonderful, fun, loving, smart little boy than I could have even imagined. You always have a big smile, and that makes me smile.

It was four years ago today that you came into this world, and it was one of the most blessed days in our lives (tied of course the day your baby brother was born). Happy Birthday to my big snugglebug, Zackery Gendebien Zimmer. I love you! xoxo

My Boys Are Growing Up!

Okay, so I haven’t written much lately about how big my boys are getting – so here goes!

Brayden is completely walking now. It is adorable, and he is SO proud of himself. Yesterday he didn’t want to take off his bike helmet and I just so happened to video him walking around the living room. Makes my heart melt – so cute. Funny with the helmet too! 🙂

Zackery is almost 4 years old – I can’t believe it!!! He is getting so big too, and looks like a little man. Especially when he was all dressed up in a suit for Emily’s wedding last weekend. He is constantly amazing me with everything he does. We went to Sesame Place when we were back in PA, and he actually wanted to go on all the rides and do all the activities. Wasn’t scared a bit. He is a non-stop talker (sometimes to my frustration), and he’s starting to be a little more outgoing around other kids (those he doesn’t know). I am so proud of him!

Short and sweet, but that’s all I have time for right now… As always, stay tuned for more.

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