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Dear Owen,

It’s been a month since your fourth birthday and so far I have to say, I like four better than three . Don’t get me wrong, we had some great times last year, but we also were introduced to Owen the “threenager”, and he was more often than not grumpy and defiant. While you still have some tough moments, I’m beginning to see you coming out of your angst and shining through as a really cool, smart, and insightful kid.

You seem so big to me now. Part of it is that the moment Drew was born, both you and Ryan seemingly grew three feet overnight. But that’s not the whole reason. You are a preschooler — a kid who likes to read, and build, and explore. A kid who fearlessly rides his bike down hills and makes up funny songs. You are sensitive, and your capacity for love is overwhelming. When you’re not beating up your brother, you are hugging and kissing him. You throw yourself into my arms when you first see me in the morning and your adoration for your daddy is written all over your face. And you LOVE your baby Drew. Sometimes I catch you just lying next to him holding his hand. The other day I was in the kitchen when you yelled for me to come quickly.

“Mommy! Drew smiled at me so big! I feel so special!”

Well, I teared up right there.

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Every mother who has encountered you has taken me aside and told me you are just so sweet, just so kind. And so inquisitive. This part always makes me laugh because, oh buddy, do you ask a lot of questions. There is so much in this world to know, and you want to know it all. You begin talking as soon as your eyes open (which is still usually no later than 6:15 a.m.), and continue all day. Sometimes the questions are silly (or make no sense, really). Other times they are really interesting and make me stop and think before answering. And sometimes they are really tough.

My mom always said age four is magical — that the attitude calms down a bit and the child begins to say very profound things. I’m finding that to be true, as now you are beginning to ask the hard questions; questions about why people are different shapes and sizes, what it means to die, questions about god. You ask the things I don’t always have the answers to and I can feel the protective bubble I’ve been able to keep you in slowly beginning to burst. I hope I do my best in answering these things for you, while also keeping you as innocent as I can for a few more years. The world isn’t always a good place, my love. For now, I only want you to see the best in it.

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I’m really proud to be your mommy. You make me laugh with your goofball humor and you might not notice it, but I often find myself just staring at you, especially while holding your baby brother, and wondering where the time is going. Your chubby baby cheeks have long given way to those of a long and lean boy, but your eyes continue to twinkle as brightly as the first moment I held you.

Here’s to your fourth year, Mr. O. I can’t wait to see what it will bring.

I love you through and through.

Love,

Mommy

 

 

 

Dear Ryan,

I’m sitting down to write this two weeks after your birthday. Such is the plight of the second child, I’m afraid. I’ve been composing it in my head for much longer, though. One year…just like that.

The first things people comment on when they meet you is your hair, and your happiness. Both are pretty remarkable.

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Your hair is starting to get a little too long in the back and is threatening to become a mullet if I don’t do something about it soon, but the thought of cutting it makes me sad. I’m going to wait it out a little longer until it becomes a vision hazard.

And your happiness? Oh, Ryan. You are just the happiest. You are always smiling. Always! You flirt and laugh and give giant, wet, open-mouth kisses. You have pride in your accomplishments and give yourself a round of applause when you do something well, all while shrieking “Yay!!” Sometimes I find you laughing while flipping through a book or crashing a car because, life! It’s a blast!

Your nickname around here is “Trouble”, and it suits you. You are into everything, so very scrappy, and are already proving to be my wild child. One of your favorite “scare Mama” tricks is to push your giant stuffed lion next to Owen’s closet, climb on top of it and pull on the net of his basketball hoop. Can you at least put a helmet on if you’re going to do that? Over the past two weeks you went from taking your first step, to standing from the floor on your own, to basically walking around the house like you own the place. I forgot how startling it can be to have a small person round the corner doing his best Frankenstein impression when you’re not expecting it. I think Kodiak forgot, too, because you’ve startled him a few times.

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I’m hoping once you are fully comfortable with walking that your sleep will go back to normal. And by normal, I mean you used to just sleep all the time. Naps were done in minutes without a fight, bedtime was easy and essentially through the night. As you’ve been working on this skill (and working on adding to your four teeth, I suspect) though, you’ve been up a few times at night, wanting to nurse constantly and have been royally fighting your afternoon nap. I would really, really like to go back to you sleeping. Really. Trust me, we are all happier when everyone sleeps. I will say that you always tell me when you’re ready to sleep. When you’re tired you cry “nigh, nigh, nigh!” until we put you down for night night. Never stop that, ok? It’s adorable.

You are a talker, mister. You are constantly babbling to yourself or anyone who will listen. Your consistent words include: mama, dada, wawa (Owen), dog, book, ball, bear, dat (that), yay, bah (cup), nuh (nurse), night night, hi, uh oh, rum rum (which isn’t really a word, but the sound you make when you drive toy cars around), and believe it or not, dinosaur. It comes out as “dye-dye-dye”, but you only say it when you’re playing with and showing me toy dinosaurs so I know that’s what you mean. What a funny thing to add to your vocabulary. You smack your lips together when you want to eat and always use the signs for more, all done, milk, and have created your own for lovey, which is you touching your mouth with your open hand just like you press your lovey to your face. (SO CUTE.)

Speaking of your lovey, you are totally attached to it. It’s a white lovey with a sheep head that was gifted to your brother when he was a baby. Owen never took any interest in it, but you clutch it to you while you sleep and like to carry it around when you first wake up. It’s slowly going from white to…not so white, despite washing it. I guess it’s just well-loved.

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Owen continues to be your ultimate buddy and it’s clear you already idolize him. If he does it, you need to do it too, and that means imitating him in every possible way. You need to drink from big boy cups, and play with big boy toys, and eat big boy food (you did purees for maybe a minute around six months. Then it was “give me what he’s got”, basically.) (Oh yeah, you eat everything. Every. Thing. And if there isn’t food on your tray mere seconds after I put you in the high chair you shriek!) He loves you to infinity and beyond, even though he’s become very territorial about his toys. I don’t think he was quite prepared for all that sharing. The joy in both of your eyes when you play or spontaneously hug, or the peals of laughter from both of you in the back seat makes me know we’re all doing something right, though.

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See what happened, Ry Ry? I finally got to writing about you and now I can’t stop. There is just so much to tell.

I will stop, though. For today. Happy first (and two weeks) birthday, my not-so-little Little. Thank you for the joy you bring me constantly.

I love you through and through.

Love,

Mama

 

- On Saturday we had a birthday party for the boys. The plan was to have an outdoor bbq, but the sky threatened rain and the humidity left the air thick and soupy. We moved the 30+ people indoors, but after a while the sun burst through the clouds and people ventured outdoors. It ended up being a really beautiful day!

You may recall that while planning Owen’s first birthday party, I laid some pretty heavy mom-guilt on myself over — of all things — his birthday cake. I made myself feel so terrible that I, (gasp!) bought his cake rather than made it with love. Somebody should have told me to get over it. Really.

This time, I decided not to go crazy. I put a sailboat and some nautical language on the invitation, bought some red, white and blue table cloths, plates and napkins and called it a day. Nautical-ish. Patriotic-ish. Whatever, it totally worked. I also released myself from any guilt and for under six bucks made 48 funfetti cupcakes and you know what? They were DELICIOUS.

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My mom always threw us great birthday parties, but the ones I truly remember I was older for. I figure I have many birthdays ahead of us to go all out. I did splurge on one party thing, though — adorable matching birthday shirts for the boys. I’m so glad I did!

Owen:

O shirt

Ryan:

R shirt

Aren’t they sweet? (Psst…If you like those, check back on Monday for a super awesome giveaway !)

It was a really great, stress-free party and we have some wonderfully generous friends and family who spoiled the boys rotten. A great day.

- So, after the party comes the thank you cards. I’m a big believer of a handwritten card thanking the recipient specifically for what they gave. It’s always nice to receive mail and appreciation, no? I do my best to get them out within a week of getting a gift (my mama raised me right!), and I hope to instill that in the boys as well.

What drives me crazy, though, is what surrounds the giving of the thank you card. If the person mailed the gift, I often send a quick email to acknowledge we received it. I thank them in the email, then thank them again by card. But I always wonder if they think the email is the actual thank you and kind of tacky. I don’t know, I get all in my head about it. Sometimes it’s just a lot of work to say thanks for a pair of socks, or something.

It also makes me nuts when my mom (hi, mom!) will ask me if I’ve sent a thank you card. I totally get it, I do. She’s a mom. I’m a mom. Moms will do this. But I’m 30 years old and she’s the one who taught me to send the cards! Job well done, mom! So, mom. You don’t have to ask this time. I’ve been writing the thank you cards ;)

- Owen received a toy lawn mower for his birthday, and while he was playing with it he told us he was going to “unleash the power of technology.” We all kind of stared at him for a minute in confusion. Say what? Where did that come from? I’m still at a loss so if that sounds familiar to you please let me know!

- Bad TV I’ve been watching : Mistresses. Good TV I’ve been watching: The Newsroom, Season 1. Any recommendations?

Dear Owen,

Recently we’ve been ending the day by watching videos of you as a baby. At first you would laugh and say that Ryan was so cute! Look at him laughing! I would explain to you that no, that’s not baby Ryan, that’s baby Owen. That’s you! It took you a while to wrap your head around that.

I totally know where you’re coming from, because it’s hard for me to wrap my head around it too. When I watch those videos I can’t believe the chunkalicious, rosy-cheeked baby on the screen is the same awesome little boy watching next to me.

Today you are three years old. “One, two, THREE!” you tell me, holding up your thumb, pointer and middle finger.

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I wrote a few days ago about some of the less enjoyable things that go on at this age, but that’s really only a small part of it. There is so much awesome happening with you right now too. Like how you have started to pick up your feet on your balance bike and really balance, not just push with your feet. Or how you make up songs and build your own version of the Island of Sodor with your blocks and tracks while telling stories of where your trains are going that day. You can count to 30 and know the days of the week, the months and can sing all 50 states. You love to dance and will request everything from James Brown to country music to Mumford & Sons.

There are small things — like the sound of your laughter when the wind whips your hair in the car, or how you take my hand in the parking lot and tell me to look both ways — and big stuff too. Like how you tell us you miss us when we are gone, even for just a little while, because you love us so much.

You still love your cars and trucks, but now play with them as though they are real things and not just toys, building roads and hills for them to climb, garages for them to park in and tunnels for them to drive though. At any given moment there are at least two hiding behind every throw pillow in the house. You constantly want to play outside, love going to the beach and though it still makes you nervous, you are starting to venture into the water and are SO proud of yourself when you do.

You are imaginative and musical and funny and kind and sensitive. You are also an amazing brother. Sure, your sharing needs some work and I often have to remind you to be a little more gentle, but overall, watching you be a big brother to Ryan is just the most amazing thing. You beat me to his room every morning, scaling the crib and covering him in hugs and kisses. He chases you down the hall calling”Wa Wa!”, climbs all over you and leans in to give you kisses without being prompted because you are just the best of friends. You give him drinks from your cup and build pillow and stuffed animal forts to play in together, and I often find you sitting with your arm around him just because.

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In September you start preschool. I cannot believe you are old enough for that! You are excited to go and talk about it often, but are also worried that I won’t stay with you. It’s not uncommon for you to need two or three times to be comfortable with a new situation, but I’m hoping the transition from being home full time with me to three mornings away isn’t too hard on you. Actually, I think it will be great and I’m really looking forward to watching you grow and thrive there.

You are in the “why” stage, and talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Your questions are endless and I often get to the end of a long stream of them and run out of steam. Sometimes I simply don’t have the answer and you don’t like to accept that. Recently, my friend asked you why you ask so many questions and you replied:

Because I want to know everything.

Well, Owen, I can’t really argue with that.

I’ve heard the theory that first babies are like the first pancakes in a batch; how parents make all the mistakes on their first kid. But you know what? I’m really proud to be your mommy, Owen. Your heart and smile are both so very big and I think our first pancake is pretty darn awesome.

Happy third birthday, bugaboo. I can’t wait to see what this year brings.

I love you through and through.

Love,

Mommy

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I turned 30 on New Year’s Eve. There’s a lot of hype surrounding this birthday. The Big 3-0 comes around and people feel pressure to have completed something: careers, families, etc. I may not have done everything I had hoped to accomplish by my 30th birthday, but I’ve come pretty close.

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Those two right there? That’s the best thing I’ve done in my 30 years. Hands down.

The last few weeks have been an endless celebration — first the holidays and concluding with an amazing surprise birthday party. Together with family and friends, Michael threw me a party I will never forget. And believe it or not, I was 100% surprised. I had NO clue!

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I say goodbye to my 20s with mixed emotions. It was a good decade, filled with some of the biggest events of a lifetime. Jobs, marriage, children, homes, loss, love. It all happened in my 20s. I look forward to what this next chapter has in store, though. I promise this 30-something blogger will have some good stories to tell.

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(30 in age; kid at heart. )

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