June at 2 Years 2 Months

Our wild child.

This is our third born. She rules this house with an iron fist, as two year olds do. On her birthday we let her eat a butter packet with a knife because both of us were too scared to take it away from her. This about sums up how life is right now.

She is tiny, but she is fierce.

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June is a lot like her siblings were at this age. She talks a TON, she has already taken to calling me by my first name, “I so happy to see you Jackie”, she says. She loves music and anytime there are songs at story time or playgroup, she takes out her ponytail and shakes her head around until she falls down in a dizzy heap. Her favorite song to sing is Jingle Bells. The only line she knows is “Jingle bells, jingle bells”, so you can imagine what that is like for all of us.

She lives for Reese and James is her arch nemesis who she ocassionally likes, mostly when he gets stuff for her.  She knows exactly how to piss James off and unfortunately he falls for it every time. She is the destroyer of lego towers, grabber of crayons, puller of hair, and the worst; a spitter. But she also wakes from every nap, looks around, pushes her curls out of her eyes and asks, “Where’s Jeems?” When they are at school she loves to play in their rooms and steal their most prized possessions, the ones she’s never allowed to touch when they are around. As a little sister myself, I can commiserate with this.

It is easy to tell that she is a little sister. She knows far too much for two years old, and is not afraid to chase down big kids and join their wrestling matches or soccer games, much to my horror. She has started potty talk much too soon thanks to her big brother, and her favorite thing to do is to yell “poopy diaper” and wait for the laughs.

She sits through soccer practices, swim lessons, is carted to karate and cub scouts. I imagine how this feels through her eyes. To be taken to places with cool looking things; games, toys, crafts, balls, pools, snacks etc. Then to be promptly removed without being allowed to touch anything, only to be taken back about an hour later and then removed again. She is totally aware that bigger kids are doing better things without her. Anytime we talk about going anywhere or doing anything, June will appear at my feet, pulling on my pants leg and yelling, “I COME!”

I promise you June, your time will come.

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Favorite things include our dog Miles, who she follows and around and loves on/tortures relentlessly, her bubba (pacifier) which yes, she still has at 2 years old so shutty, her big sister and brother, her cousin Sam, Legos (which she pronounces with an Italian accent), Paw Patrol, Daniel Tiger, playing outside, riding her trike, apples, ham and cheese, the beach and the farm.

Despite the fact that she is the littlest, our life still seems to revolve around her in a way that it should. The kids are aware that we can’t always do certain things because we’ll have June with us and it just won’t work, or that there are times when she will need to go for a nap, or need to be fed. And to me, this is how it should be, because before we know it everyone will be on the same playing ground and there won’t be a little person there to remind us to take a break.

So thank you Junie, for keeping us on our toes. I think it was getting too easy for us for a little while there anyway.

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James at 3.5 Years

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Another late update.

James was 3 and a half in early September and in true middle child fashion, his update never happened. Sorry buddy, but from one middle child to another, you’ll get used to it.

Dear James,

My little baby boy.

You are feisty, you are loud, you are devastatingly handsome, and you are wild and crazy. You couldn’t be more different from your sister at this age.

Your true loves include trucks, trains, Star Wars, MagnaTiles, Iron Man, selfies, riding your bike, the police, swimming, wrestling, Legos, and pretending to shoot things. You love peanut butter, jelly, rice cakes, cereal, and little other food. You love “cozy pants” and refuse to wear any pants that have buttons on them. I fight you on this, but I get it, no one loves an elastic waistband more than your mom. You fight with Reese daily, but when she gets home from school you light up. You are doing so well with your new little sister. I know you notice the extra time I have to spend with June, but you never direct your frustrations at her. You are only jealous that she gets to wake up in the night to eat.

You continue to be my biggest challenge in the parenting department. Sorry son, but it’s true, we usually go to battle an average of three times a day. The terrible two’s have reappeared as the threatening threes (as in me threatening you 24/7, and you threatening my sanity.) You are the sweetest boy ever about 75% of the time, but the other 25% of the time you will cut a b. You regularly tell me that you are never playing with me again, throw toys, stomp your feet, melt to the floor and turn to rubber, and then minutes later reappear asking for some crackers. I usually avoid taking you to places like the mall and the grocery store because you are getting bigger and stronger and I’m not sure how much longer I will be able to throw you over my shoulder and get the hell out of there when the need arises. The need usually arises.

You go to the school twice a week from 9-1 PM and it is everything to you. You love getting your backpack and your lunch box and going off to school just like Reese. Despite said behavior at home, you are an angel at school.

You would take a nap everyday if we had time for it. You love your midday snoozes and you still love to cuddle with your mamma. Lately you have been waking up scared in the middle of the night but your Dad can usually get you right back down. Going to sleep at night is another story. We put you and Reese to bed around 7/7:30 and for the next hour (sometimes more), you can be found laying in the hallway, busting into Reese’s room and being a general annoyance, calling to Andrew and I for water, hugs, tuck-ins, complaining of phantom injuries, etc. Oftentimes you appear in the living room doorway because, “I just had to tell you something.” “Something” is usually an arbitrary question about Star Wars, or a request to borrow our phones.

We are so proud of your kindness to other kids and your fierce independence. We love seeing you in your element at swim class, and watching you race on your bike like a maniac. We know you will be a wonderful big brother, and hopefully will become a little less of the stereotypical “little brother.”

We love you sweet James, more than you will ever know.

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Last Day of Nursery School

On the last day of nursery school the same photobomber from the first day was still wreaking havoc on our photo taking.

Reese officially finished nursery school in mid June and it was bittersweet to say goodbye to her lovely little school. James will start there two days a week next year, so we aren’t leaving it completely but Reese loved everything about her school so much and I know she misses it. She is as pumped as ever for full day kindergarten next year, and Andrew and I are excited to see her in this new phase in her life, even if I will miss my little helper every day. Can someone take James all day instead? Just kidding Jamers.

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Reese at Five, James at Three Years

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Our little people are now three and five. There is nothing baby about them at all, and they both get mad when I say they will always be my babies. But they will.

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Reesie turned five on November 29th and we celebrated with her favorite sushi roll, fried ice cream, and a party at the YMCA a few days later.

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My dearest Reese, there was a time when the Happy Birthday song brought you to tears but this year you reveled in it. You weren’t even mad when I dropped your birthday cake on my lap on the way to the party and we served a leaning, lopsided, chocolate mess, half of which was smeared across the front of my jeans.

You still love art and can spend hours coloring in your room. You like your alone time, and you are like me in that way. Some days you ask to go to rest time so you can have some time to yourself. Your kindness is what I am most proud of. You get along with everyone, and I have never seen you being mean to another child (not counting your brother of course.) I can see the hurt on your face when other kids are being left out or not treated fairly. You are ULTRA sensitive, which is frustrating for me at times, but you do you. The other day after a particularly rough afternoon for me, I didn’t say a word in the car on the way home from the YMCA. I felt like I needed 5 minutes of silence and if I didn’t get it, I would explode. You started to cry and said that you know I’m sad and when I’m sad you feel sad. My heart officially melted and then we all went and got munchkins.

You take swimming lessons and gymnastics classes once a week.  You have come so far in swimming. You can swim up and down the pool without your floatie and you jump in the deep end like it’s no thang. You like gymnastics but complain that it makes you hot and tired. Spoken like a true athlete.

You are in school Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can write all of your letters and numbers, your full name, and some short words. You love reading books and have memorized many of your favorites. You love The Magic School Bus, Shimmer and Shine (ugh), Batman, Legos, and dress up.

You are helpful and can do so much by yourself now. You help me everyday and are learning the hard lesson that because James is younger, and has bigger, louder tantrums (in public) he often gets what he wants. Ok, he always gets what he wants.

You are not shy, which I love. You talk to anyone you meet and tell them all about where we are going, who we saw yesterday, and exactly what mom said when she spilled the coffee this morning. One Sunday morning when I was away and your dad took you to church, you turned to the family behind you and said, “My mom’s at a bachelorette party.”

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James turned three on March 5th and had cake and ice cream with his grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles.

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Dear Jamesie, you still love trains, trucks and cars. Trains especially, and riding the commuter rail with your dad is a favorite activity. You are obsessed with puzzles. You love cheese. Your best friends are Reese’s friends and their siblings, all of whom happen to be girls. Whenever we show up for a playdate, the girls say “The boy is here! Run!” Poor you. This will all change one day, I promise.

You now sleep in a “big boy bed”, you are almost completely potty trained, and you talk nonstop, but I feel like you never get a chance to finish your thoughts because someone who will remain nameless, (Reese), is always cutting you off. You take swimming lessons with me on Wednesdays which you love. You are a great swimmer but just need to work on following the teacher’s directions, or any directions for that matter.

The terrible two’s have segued into the even more terrible threes, and you are constantly challenging me. You are a runner. You run away at any opportunity you have. There are few opportunities though because I walk around holding onto you by the hood of your coat, as if it is a leash. When I don’t have a free hand your sister takes over as hood holder. I don’t know what I’ll do when the weather changes.

You are a cuddler and I hope that never changes. I hope that you never stop saying “bathing soup” (bathing suit), and I hope that you hold on to a little bit of that mischievousness as you get older. Just a little bit though.

Happy third birthday my sweet little hellion.

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Back to School

Here’s my girl again, off to school like a full-blown kid.

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And here she is with her little brother, who is the epitome of little brothers and who is also asking to go to school every day. Sorry little bro, but you got a few more years to go.

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This year Reese is in Pre-K three days a week. She is with all new kids, in a new classroom, with new teachers, and she is handling it well. She misses her old teachers a lot, and every morning we still have to peek our heads into their classroom before she can start her day.

It makes me a little sad that this will be our last year spending our days together; running errands, going to the library, and making spontaneous weeknight trips to Gammy and Grandpa’s. Next year it will be kindergarten and my little buddy will be in school full time. But I will not dwell on this, and so I keep reminding myself that this is what she is supposed to be doing, that this is good, and that it’s just kindergarten and it’s not until next year, so calm down you emotional maniac.

Potty Talk. Again.

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The Elmo potty is back in our lives and I feel like the manic laughter is even more annoying this time around.

I was still working when Reese was potty trained so I missed a lot, but I am a firm believer that she went when she was ready, and there probably wasn’t much I could do to change that. James had started telling us more and more that he needed to be changed or he had a poop in his diaper, so I took this to mean that he might be ready. I decided one week when we had no plans, and the weather was nice, that I would let James run around for a couple of days diaper free and see what happened.

One of my friends swore by a method that she had used to train her son, who at the time, was almost 3. It’s 2 days of no pants or diaper, and then 5 days of just pants, no underwear, and then they start wearing underwear full-time.

For two days, minus bedtime and nap time and a few quick trips out where he wore a diaper, he ran around the yard, free as a bird, going potty wherever he pleased. Anywhere that was not the potty, that is. Then after that, I started putting him in his shorts with nothing under them, hoping for the best. He still went wherever he wanted, and a few times made it to the potty. He actually had remarkable skills and was sometimes able to poop right out the leg of his shorts, without even soiling the shorts at all. The days where he wore his shorts, but not underwear or diaper is when I think it really started to click. He realized right away that his shorts were wet and didn’t like that at all, and I think that’s when he started to recognize the feeling he got when he had to go.

There are lots of messes with this method. We stayed outside as much as possible but I still felt like I was constantly cleaning up messes for the first two days. I tried to keep James out of the one carpeted room we have, but that was his preferred place for number 2’s. What makes it even harder is that whenever he was distracted (i.e. watching TV), he would go without even noticing it. So, you really have to follow your kid around all day and can’t even leave them for a minute. This method also requires lots of wine at night so be ready.

Now, two weeks later, he is in underwear for most of the day and today is the first day we took him out with underwear. I do have to sit him on the potty every now and then because he doesn’t always tell me. So if it seems like it has been a while since he went, I will sit him down and see if he has to go. He wears diapers whenever he is sleeping, and he still has accidents, and struggles with going #2 for sure. I’m pretty sure that he holds in #2 until he is in a diaper. Then he can really let loose.

I forgot to mention that anytime James went in the potty, he got an M&M. This is a sure-fire way to get my kids to do anything. I would give Reese an M&M too, so she was super invested in James’s success.

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Firsts

This past weekend we took Reese to her first movie.

She had been asking to go to a movie in a theater for a while. It was cold, dreary, and we had a full Saturday to kill. The only kids movie playing at our local theater was Kung Fu Panda 3.

$42 later, yes you read that correctly, two adult tickets and 1 child’s ticket at our outrageously expensive movie theater, came to $42. James was free, thank god, otherwise homeboy would have been left behind.

All in all, it didn’t go great and Reese asked to go home twice during the course of the movie. Our heads were saying, “hells no you can’t go home this just cost us $50”, but our mouths said, “it’s ok Reese, just cover your eyes at the scary parts.” Plus, we needed to see if Po got his chi back.  She spent a good portion of the movie with her eyes covered. Kai, the bull in the movie terrified her and no amount of lollipops or popcorn could fix it.

I honestly did not think it was that scary but unfortunately, Reese is JUST like her mom. I was scared of everything growing up, (including clowns which most children find delightful and hilarious) and to this day I don’t watch Dateline if I’m home alone at night.

Twice during the short car ride home Reese said, “How about you never take me to this theater again when Kung Fu Panda is playing.” Later, when Andrew was putting her to bed she asked, “Why did Mom want to take us to see that scary movie?”Also, for the past two nights at bedtime she has said that she can’t stop thinking about Kai. Awesome. A scary bull from ancient China is haunting my four-year-old’s thoughts.

So I may or may not have ruined the first movie theater experience for Reese. James, on the other hand has learned that movies include unlimited candy and popcorn so he is lifer.

Reese at 4 Years

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Early this morning I heard the sound of small feet running down the hall. Then a faint knock at my door. When I opened it, I found you,  bleary eyed and crazy haired. You looked up at me, not fully awake, and said, “Am I four?”

For you, I’m sure it has seemed like a long road to four. For your Dad and I, it has been the blink of an eye.

You have become so smart. Too smart sometimes. You are kind. You are creative. Your imagination is wild and crazy and it is one of the best things about you. You make us laugh so much.

You are girl through and through.

A couple of week ago when you were supposed to be in rest time, I came upstairs to find you in my room, standing in front of my mirror, holding an eye lash curler against your face. You said, “My eyelashes were flat, and they needed to be up.” Oh. My. God.

School is your favorite. Your teachers tell me that drawing and painting are your favorite things to do. Every day when I pick you up I leave with armloads of your masterpieces.

You can now dress yourself, put your shoes on, get your own utensils and placemat for mealtime, clean your room (kind of), spell your name and your brother’s name, and you know the lyrics to most top 40 hits. Every day you need me a little less.

You love your swimming lessons, but you won’t go all the way under water until I get you goggles. I will get you goggles, but I know you will hate them.

Recently, you have been asking to take ballet, but I suspect it is just for the outfits.

You go to bed around 7:30 each night even though you never seem tired, and you have finally stopped coming out of your room 762 times after we put you down. Although I do kind of miss hearing your ridiculous excuses to delay bedtime, including, “I can’t get my shoes on and my ankle is twisted” or, “my waist hurts.”

You love Frozen, Sofia the First, Curious George, Frances, books, dressing up, eating, dancing, baking, drawing and your grandmas.

So yes, my love, today your are four.I know we will blink again and you will be 24. So please slow down, but don’t change anything else.

First Days

This is the day my girl left for school.

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I wasn’t sure how she was going to do on that first day. I have never dropped her off anywhere, except with her grandparents. Would she cry when I was leaving? I didn’t think I would be able to handle that. Would she cling to my leg and beg me to stay? No, she would literally jog into her classroom, toss her backpack at me and wave goodbye to me from the dress up corner. I don’t think she even looked up.

When I came to pick her up, her teachers would tell me that it was like she had been going to school her whole life. I am relieved and happy for her that she loves school so much. She only goes two days a week for four hours but she tells me that she would like to go every day, and also to stay for nap time. She loves her teachers. She brings them flowers that she picked and often asks intimate questions about what they do after hours. “What do you think Mrs. Bannon is doing RIGHT now?”

Eating lunch is her favorite part of school. Rightfully so. Followed by playing dress up, particularly in the “Barbie costume.” She is one of three girls in her class and there are 6 boys. The two other girls in her class were best friends last year at school, but Reese seems to be fitting in. I’m not sure if she would know if she wasn’t fitting in anyway.

I am enjoying a few hours with just James and am thrilled for Reese to gain some independence and to interact more with kids her age, I also love hearing about what she is doing. Is it creepy that I would die to be able to somehow watch her while she is at school? I would love to see what she’s doing, what she’s saying etc. I am so fascinated by how she might act at school, away from me.

So while this is the end of our 24/7 togetherness, and that is a little sad, it’s just the beginning of first days, and that is so exciting.

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