Newsletter: Month 54

Dear Ian, The last month or so has been full of ups and downs for both you and me. I recall wistfully how when you were a baby it was a rarity to hear you cry for any reason at all, and if so never for more than a few seconds.

As a three and four year old, though, there were times when I wondered if we could get through one glorious day without you crying over something. I don't blame you for this. It's tough being four, much more so than being a newborn in many ways.

We are literally watching your brain change before our eyes and it is all at once amazing and maddening. You have gone through some phases recently of not wanting to be out of our site. Since our house is larger than a studio apartment, this has led to you flipping out because we go upstairs to the bathroom without notifying you. I didn't think I would need a hall pass in my own home, but it is what it is.

But this past month has also marked a significant milestone of you playing with other kids and without us while at an SCA event. This is huge, for all of us. I just checked on you every few hours to water you and feed you a snack. You were happy to invent your own games, find your own friends, and make your own adventures. It was magical.

While you're trying to write and draw more these days, your handwriting still leaves much to be desired. You sit in the backseat with a notebook and pen, doing your "homework" and asking me how to spell whatever word comes to mind. You asked me how to spell "underwear" the other day and dutifully plowed through all those letters. But after that, you sheepishly asked if we could just spell "undies" instead. That led to the realization that they both start with the same letters. And your brain grew just a little more right then and there.

We've started reading our first chapter book this month. I picked out James and the Giant Peach on a whim and I'm pleased to say we're making great headway. It's been hard, though, if you get very tired because you don't want to go to sleep but you have to pay attention through your exhaustion to follow the story with no pictures. First world problems, man.

Newsletter: Month 31

Dear Ian, Last week you turned 31 months old and we're here to talk about your brain! It's actually what compelled me to sit down and write you a letter, being pretty remiss of late in my chronicling of your milestones.

This last week you have been a bit of a challenge. "Jerk" is the affectionate term your father has used on occasion, combined with one that starts with "A" and rhymes with glass pole. But I prefer to think of all the amazing things going on in that little body of yours and compliment you for retaining what civility you have.

It's been a bit of a "NO" fest around here. They took note of it at school too. So it's been a standoff at times between deciding what we're going to wear or eat or well ... anything. But, to focus on the positive, I think your going through a growth spurt and you're just struggling to keep up. Friday night around 3am, you pulled on my sleeve and said clearly, "Can I have some mama milk, please Mom?" This is the child who normally moans like Frankenstein's monster for milk and suddenly you were in top hat and tails puttin' on the ritz. There are many folks who joke that as soon as a child can ask for milk, it's time to cut them off, but amazed at your politeness in the wee hours of the darkness, I would have given you the moon.

You've also started doing a lot more imaginative play. Yesterday you pretended to put on hockey skates before we played in the living room. You also ate some pretend food as a snack sometime during that workout. As you took two little hockey players out and were lying on the floor making complicated orders, it was all I could do to not immediately order you little green army men on Amazon. (Note to self: order little green army men.) All this brain activity, though, has made it hard for you to sleep. We just spent from 8:30pm to 10pm tonight lying in the dark with you while you tossed and turned, unable to slow your brain. And last night, despite the aid of melatonin to fall asleep you were wide awake at 4am.

But that led to another first for us. We had already had a gallon or two of mama milk and I was growing weary of that. But you still just couldn't fall asleep and you looked at me all sad. Not crying, but just pitiful. I asked you if you wanted me to tell you a story and you said "Yes!" So I started off with "Once upon a time, there was a magical kingdom and in it was a very brave knight named Ian." Even in the darkness of 4am, I could see you grin with recognition. This was going to be a great story! I mixed in some dragons and horses and fire but tried to keep it simple. You were satisfied once I told the story twice and we snuggled under "big covers" (our covers are big covers versus your little blanket) to go back to sleep.

So, sure, you dumped your soup all over my lap at dinner today because you were determined to use the utensils yourself, but you apologized in the car and made sure to smooch me. All was right again in the world as we ate our donuts in the hockey rink. I'm staying positive that the new things you can do far outweigh the bumps in the road along the way.

Singing in the rain

Love, Mama

Newsletter: Month 26

Dear Ian, You may have noticed that there is a gap in our monthly newsletters. The best I can explain it is that starting around month 20, things got kind of tough for us all. You were having a hard time dealing with your emotions and we were having a hard time dealing with your emotions, so at the end of the day writing was the last thing on my mind.

But things are worlds better now. They have been pretty much from the moment you turned 2. We won't try to recap all those good months and bad right now. We'll just focus on how things are this month.

Things are awesome. You can talk about pretty much anything you want to and you are super chatty. The fact that we can communicate so well is something I appreciate every single day because when you get tired or your emotions get the better of you and block your words, everything just starts to break down.

Christmas was last week and both Santa and your grandparents were very good to you. It was all a little overwhelming for you so we were happy to take it all in stages. Nana and Granddad came to stay overnight on Christmas Eve and we all were able to see the magic of Christmas morning unfold.

Your favorite toy by far has been a travel train mat with some Thomas trains. As soon as you tore it open you knew exactly what to do with it and immediately started making chop chop noises as you pushed trains around the circuit. You got a Kermit puppet from Mamaw and Pop and some Tonka trucks from Nana and Granddad.

You got a tricycle for your 2nd birthday and it's been your primary mode of transportation down to Mamaw and Pop's. It's so amazing to watch how your imagination works. There's a Thomas video where one of the trains Spencer gets stuck in the mud and has to have Harvey the crane train save him. As we passed the house with a muddy yard, I warned you that if you went in there you'd get stuck just like Spencer. I could almost hear the gears turning in your little brain. About 10 feet later, you stopped pedaling in your tracks (thankfully still on the pavement) and blurted out, "oh, no! Spencer's stuck in the mud again!" and started grinning at me. So I had to walk over and pick you up saying, "it looks like Harvey will have to pick you up and get you back on track." You repeated "Back on track!" and then took off pedaling again.

There's a Youtube video of a baby elephant that sneezes and scares himself so he runs over to his mommy. Now every time you sneeze, you said "Ooh! I sneeze like a baby elephant!" and we have to say "Bless you, baby elephant!" I love the way you say "thanks" and I love the way you say "okay" and "sure" like you've known all those words your whole life. I must admit I much prefer those words to "No!" and "I don't wanna go to bed!"

You're still our little night owl, not wanting to go to bed tonight until almost midnight. But you were amiable and chatty the whole evening. I think it was particularly hard for you to go to bed tonight after such an exciting day. Not only did you have a visit from Ben and Megan and Riley and Molly (and Penny dog) but we all went ice skating today!

Our intention was to just carry you around or maybe let you slide around with your tennis shoes but as we sat to put on our skates, you hopped up and immediately started taking off your shoes. This from the boy who won't take his shoes off to SLEEP. So as Daddy started to say, "oh Buddy, we weren't going to ..." I said "that sentence shouldn't even be finished. You should go over to the rental space and get the smallest pair of skates they have."

Amazingly, they had your size and you were so pleased as Daddy strapped them on you. You only managed a tiny bit of skating until you realized that you could go much faster in Daddy's arms than you could on your own two feet. Poor Daddy had quite a work out today sine you weigh at least 32 pounds. But everyone had a blast. It was a magical morning in many ways and part of the inspiration to mention all that you are these days.

You're clever and funny and happy and kind and a little impulsive and better than we could have imagined. Pop said today that he wishes he could pause you at this age to get to enjoy it for longer. I'm not so sure about that, but I am trying to bottle up little moments as I can.

Learning to skate with Daddy

Love, Mommy