Dear Simon, age 6 and a half.

  
Dear Simon.
Today is Sunday, April 10th. I’ve been meaning to write you a letter every day for months now, because there is never enough time for me to say all of the things I want to say.

There’s never enough time in between the times I say, “What else could you try?” and “That wasn’t a very kind thing to do” or “Did you put your shoes on? Are your teeth brushed? If I touch your toothbrush will the bristles be wet?”

  
In between all of that nagging Simon, I want to say the things I hurriedly try to whisper in your ear when I tuck you in at night. Only I want to drag them out and say more than, “I am so proud of you” and “You are such a good boy” and “Tomorrow is going to be a great day” or on the harder nights, “Tomorrow we’ll try harder.”

  
I want to tell you that I love watching you grow. You’ve become so lanky and tall. Your hair is this golden color and you want to let it grow down to your shoulders, you say. Your knees and elbows are pointy and sharp, sharply contrasted against the memories I have of you what seems like moments ago, round and soft. I can close my eyes and imagine you the other way, but I sure do love the person you are now.

  
You are SO incredibly kind to your brother and other people. You are so amazingly generous with your toys, your space, your THINGS. George has no idea how lucky he is to have you, but someday he will know. I will tell him, don’t worry.

  
I love snuggling with you, under a blanket on the couch, at the movies in the theater, and when you ask me to snuggle with you at bedtime- I’m sorry I never stay long enough. Right now George sucks a lot of my energy out at bedtime, so sometimes I’m rushing to get out of your room and just be alone for a while. I will try to be better.

   
   
This year at school has been OK. The friend (Matteo) you play the most with is moving away. You’ve said almost every morning lately that you hate school and you don’t want to go. It breaks my heart a little because I know you love learning and socializing, and that your negative feelings about school are connected to other feelings and I want to make you feel more sure of yourself and confident. I do a lot of reading, trying to find out how I can help YOU know how awesome you are. Because you are so awesome, Simon. Your dad and I say it all the time.

   
 So I just wanted to tell you, I love the person you are right now, at age 6 and a half. And I’ve loved you at every age, though with each year you grow my heart grows in a way I didn’t expect it to. Then you show me something tremendous that I didn’t expect, and I am blown away by your kindness of spirit once again.
I am so incredibly proud of you. I am so sorry that I am not always the best mom. Most of the time I’m rushing around or getting things ready or about to leave- and I need to work on all of that. But please know in the times when I finally sit down and I think about our lovely little life, that I hope you have the tiniest idea of how much I love you. Because whatever idea you have, it’s the tip of the iceberg, dude.

All my heart,

Mommy

 

For George, month 24. Age 2

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Dear Doh-gee. Dohge. Georgie Porgie,  You are every bit of age 2 that a toddler could be. The problem is, you’ve been this way since you turned one. Haha! You are full of spunk, you need very little sleep. You want to laugh and GO and dance and sing. You have started talking so much and you say the cutest things like:

“Dye-Mon” Simon.

“Eye-nah wocka Mickey Missmiss.” I want to watch Mickey Twice Upon a Christmas.

“Otay” OK.

“Tanta Taus!” Santa Claus.

“Cheer me!” Applaud me while I entertain you.

“Doe deep Mommy” Go to sleep, mommy (in his bed).

“Eye yuh you” I love you.

“Go go” Stroller.

“Leela” Lisa.

“Dammaw and Tappah” Grandpa and Grandpa

“Nina” Banana

“Ah-tee” Cookie

“Imma DOOPERHERO” I’m a superhero.

You will say something and we will repeat what we THINK you said and if we’re right you will respond gleefully with “Otay!” and if we are wrong, you will go completely boneless and scream in a heap on the floor until we have turned on some sort of Mickey Mouse video or ignored you long enough to distract you from your own misery.

DSC_0626You are incredibly strong willed and you (unlike your brother) cannot be easily distracted or bribed with snacks/treats/food. You eat meat and carbs mostly, we’re working on integrating more fruits and vegetables into your diet but you are much pickier than your brother ever was. You love being strapped in your booster seat/high chair thing with snacks and a show.DSC_0525 Obviously you are obsessed with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Mickey Missmiss but you will also occasionally accept Super Why and Curious George as options of things to watch.

You still love anything with a screen. DSC_0811An iPad, and iphone, an iPod, a “puter” and shows. Oh, how you love shows. You have recently started yelling at us halfway through ANY show that is on, “I no likey, mommy” because you are bored. So sitting still at school in a few years should be a fun exercise for you, dear boy.

You love animals. “Pishies” and titty tats and doggies. You love to call “Egg-ick” (Unlce Eric) and look at the “towls” (cows) and you love to see their bunny rabbit or visit the bunny rabbit at Simon’s School. Sometimes we’ll take you to the Pet Store to look at pets or Walmart to look at “pishies”. Someday if we ever get to the zoo during daylight hours, I’m sure you will absolutely flip your lid. You love animals. I love that about you.

We recently transitioned you from a crib to a Big Boy Bed and part of your birthday present was your new big boy room. It is covered with farm animals and a new dresser and Mickey Mouse sheets. You seemed to be FINALLY be adjusting into the transition, and of course we took our Christmas Tour of Northeastern Ohio so  our sleeping arrangements/training were completely screwed up after that. We are still working on it but I’ve heard a rumor (from Daddy) that you napped today in your room. It is January 17th. We moved to your big boy bed in the beginning of December. This was your first nap IN YOUR BED. We’ve spent many weekend afternoons driving you around to nap in your carseat until today. THANK YOU, SON.

Earplugs, a baby gate and wine, those all help me get through these nights, in year TWO, Dohge, of you waking up more than twice to just scream at the doorway of your room. You told your daddy one night that one of your new pillows “is Mommy’s piwwow” because I think you originally thought we put the twin sized bed in there so we could sleep there together. Oh son, those snuggling moments are sweet, but no. No no.

DSC_0320You have this wispy hair that sort of curls and does it’s own thing. It is blond and you have these incredible dimples and a smile that fills up your whole face. You are still working on getting molars and canines and I am sort of hoping that those last remaining teeth coming through will also help in the sleep department.

DSC_0397DSC_0223You are rough and tumble, we get at least 1 incident report per week about you tumbling over some cars you were pushing or ending up with a bruise on your cheek from running into something at the daycare. You like it there, they have lots to do and a great playground and two indoor gym areas for you to get lots and lots of energy out. At your parent teacher conference they talked about how much they like you, and how much you’re learning and what a good kid you are.You play hard, you get hurt. You cry and then it’s over quickly.

7f5714f2-baae-4c6a-ac67-b0442890926fYou ADORE your brother and often whiz right past me when I walk in the door from work first, uninterested. You yell “HI DYE-MON!” and you run directly to him for a hug. Simon loves you too, but in a “I wanna snuggle you” kind of way that you aren’t really interested in. You want to play with him, do what he does- play big kid LEGO’s, be a superhero, carry a sword, dress up and look in the mirror, be on the top bunk. I love watching you play together, and I imagine in the next year or two it will only get better.

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For your birthday we had a small party at Graeter’s Ice Cream which has an indoor playground in it, and you had a blast. We had balloons and ice cream and pizza. You ate it all up and had so much fun. DSC_0373Then when your actual birthday came around, I made you a Mickey Mouse Birthday Cake and Lisa came over and we had ice cream and cake and you were so tickled to be sang to. You call the birthday song “Happy to You” and you ask to sing it a lot, still. DSC_0328

You loved Christmas and playing with the big kids, even though you were pretty sick over the actual holiday, you rallied and had a blast roaming the halls of the hotel when we were in Wadsworth to see the Geig side of the family. You adore your big cousins, Wyatt and Jake and Owen, and they love letting you follow them around, too.

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You live and play hard and fast and watching you grow up is just a joy to me. I love watching the gears turn in your head as you’re thinking and growing and talking more and more. I’m sorry it took me over a month to post this, and I’m sorry that I’m probably not that great of a mom with documenting things the second time around. But I am busy being with you, and keeping you alive, and out of the bathroom cabinets huffing Lysol.

I love your little guts.

Mama

 

 

Letter to Gabe, month 96 of 456

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Gabe.

It’s so funny how this has worked out. We never meant for any of this to happen, and it did. It’s the 8th birthday of yours’ that we’re celebrating together I think. So roundabout 95 months that we’ve been together. And 72 of  those 95 months we’ve spent being parents, raising first just one kid and now TWO. I never stop and ask myself “how did this happen?” because we both know how it happened. But also because, I’m usually thanking my lucky stars that things have worked out the way they did. I know you disagree with the idea of a Higher Power or the Universe “smiling” down at us, but honestly- if anything is proof to me that there is some sort of Bigger Thing Out There, you are that to me. Otherwise, how did I get so lucky, so many times in a row?

 

 

I’m not very good at explaining things anymore. We’re both tired. Our days are fueled by exhaustion and caffeine and a whiteboard calendar that changes weekly. We’re driven by the same things all families are driven by I assume: soccer practices, bills to pay, mouths to feed, baths to give, fun needs to be had, things need to get done. But through it all I love laughing and living with you. But,  since it’s your birthday I want to try and explain to you – maybe just brush the surface– of how I feel about you.

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I love you the way in a way that I never expected to love anyone. It’s not the kind of romantic love that feels like unexpected flowers and sappy pop songs, or slow dances in school cafeterias. It started with butterflies and uncertainty, sure- but that all changes eventually. However, you are so handsome that you still take my breath away sometimes. 1930440_66624925423_7489_n

I know I am not always the kind of partner I should be, but I want to admit that publicly, and then work harder at getting better. I want you to be as happy as I am, at least. I want to keep laughing at you, with you, at our kids, at our life, at everything. I want to keep getting close to you on the couch once a month when I feel the need to snuggle, until it gets annoying and we go off to our separate corners.

I want to work hard at loving you.

I want to keep going, I want to be good to you.

But the best part about this feeling, this drive to want to improve us, is knowing that you put forth that effort too. I so appreciate that about you.

Is it perfect? Of course not! We have days when things are muttered under our breath. We have bad mornings sometimes. And I KNOW you wonder why I never empty the diaper pail, just like I wonder why you never empty the dishwasher.

I want to listen to you more. I want to put my phone down. I want to look at you across our new kitchen table, drink gin and gingers and talk about the epic failures of modern society and culture. I want to give you the space you need when you need a break. I want to be someone you look forward to seeing each day, as I look forward to seeing you. I want us to continue stopping in the middle of what we’re doing to hug, touch, connect- prompting the boys to look at us like, “What are you guys doing?”.

I am not in love with you in the way that I expected to be in love with a husband, if I ever imagined having one. I am in love with you in a way that is so far beyond that.

10366069_723715591023354_8350676238196923661_nSure I take you for granted. I probably take advantage of your willingness to stay home and watch the kids too often. I stomp around when dirty dishes are in the sink or when the clean dishes are STILL in the dishwasher. November2014_PortraitShoppe_IMG_0251

I cook the same meals all the time. They’re “too tomatoe-y” or “too bean-y” based and I can admit that openly. But being your partner means I will continue to search online for healthier versions of the soul food you like. I would like you to live a long time.

You have this patience about you that I do not have, especially with our kids. You are an incredible father. You are so fun to be around. They just love being with you, playing with you, how you connect with them. I am proud to be with you whenever we go places. You have this smile that lights up your whole face and it is so. damned. sexy.

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I don’t tell you often enough that I appreciate you. I love that we kiss goodbye in the mornings while you whisk George out the door and I get to kiss you both at the same height and time on workdays when our routines are synced.  I love that you help me do things that aren’t that important to you, but you know that they’re important to me: making the bed, putting away all the toys after the kids are down, cleaning the floors before our parents show up. Truly, you have no idea how much I appreciate you. I should tell you and show you more. I love sitting across a table from you. I love being your partner. 11891082_10155948766070424_2259766806012188088_n

I appreciate you, Gabe. I love you more than you’ll ever really know. I’m not the best at communicating it, but neither are you so we can call it even. And I’ll still continue to work hard at us. Happy 38th birthday, best friend of mine. I love your guts.

Mandy

Simon letter, month 72 (age 6)


Dear Simon,

You have been six years old  for almost a month now, and I’m so sorry for not having written this sooner. The last part of the summer and each week that you’ve been in first grade- FIRST?! grade…have sped by lightning-fast. You are a boy now. There is absolutely not even the tiniest bit of baby left on you. There is no chunk in your cheeks. You are all knees and elbows and full of amazing ideas and observations. Though I lay my eyes on you every day and am amazed by your growth, one of the coolest things about being your mom, is how much I really just enjoy spending time with you. You are such a nice, thoughtful and funny boy.


No one could ask for a better big brother than you. And George is NOT the easiest little brother, as we know. But you have patience unlike any that I’ve seen before. And you laugh at George when he is doing the most annoying things. He loves you so much and mimics every little thing you do. I KNOW that will get annoying in months and years to come, but consider it a compliment. He wants to be like you because you are SO COOL.


This summer we went on a bunch of adventures- to parks and festivals and picnics. You learned how to ride your bike without training wheels, you had 2 birthday parties (again!) and went on two beach vacations. You started first grade with the smallest bit of nervousness, and only needed me to walk you into your classroom 3 days out of the first 5. We are so proud of you. You have become this incredibly smart and intuitive kid. You pick up on emotions and situations that I don’t think other kids would recognize.


At the same time, you still very much love to imagine and play, which is another reason I am so proud of you! Not everyone can be creative enough to entertain themselves with two metal hair clips, or a travel book light, or whatever thing you’ve found in the house. But, you do. You come up with these great scenarios in your head and I love to watch you play them out, or listen to you play. Your imaginative playful nature is one of my favorite things about you, second only to your caring and kindness towards others. You are awesome and amazing, and turning out to be such a lovely young person.


All of this is not to say that we haven’t had our share of growing pains, ups and downs, fits and dizzyspells, if you will. In the recent past, you’ve gotten incredibly angry with us over seemingly unimportant things (in the grand scheme of life) — though they are very important to you. You have become filled with rage over: bedtime, losing privileges because of the way you’ve talked to us, the fact that we don’t have a finished basement playroom (?!), us asking you to eat dinner, “chores”, among other things. Though it is hard for us to understand in the moment why you are screaming at us, what is very apparent is that you are frustrated to a point of complete and utter loss of control over your emotions. We have talked about ways to deal with being angry. We talk about pillow punching and yelling into the pillow, taking alone time, etc. I know that after you have these fits, that you feel bad about it- I can tell. I can also tell that part of the frustration is our fault. Either I’m not listening, or I’m not stopping to hug and kiss you enough, or I haven’t fully acknowledged your feelings on an issue.

Does this make your behavior ok?

No.

But, I can admit that you are not the only person at fault in those moments. Though surprising, (because you have never been a child to throw fits), I know that I should NEVER be surprised by a child’s behavior, and I should only be surprised by my own reaction to it. And I have been, I have. I hope you know that we’re trying. I hope you know that we’re listening, and that being a parent is almost as hard as being a kid. Rules are hard. It’s hard to not have fun all the time, and to have to do things you don’t want to do like go to bed or wake up on school days. There are lots of times when I too want to scream at someone or completely lose it over what would seem silly to anyone else. We are all just learning together.


And buddy, in the mornings, after dad and George leave for work and daycare, you and I have the house to ourselves. It is quiet, and we talk. Sometimes you watch a show or sometimes we’ll pack lunches together or read a book. Sometimes we’ll eat breakfast together. But it is quiet. It is calm, and most of the time, it is our time, and it is my favorite part of the day. We walk to school and you still hold my hand. You still turn towards me and rub your face in my belly like you want to hug and stay there in the yard of the school instead of going in with your friends. But eventually the bell rings, and the doors open. You find a friend to walk in with- usually Madelyn or Owen, and you run towards them. You turn around when I yell “I love you!” and you sign “I love you” to me, and wave. Mornings with you are my favorite.

This morning after you signed “I love you”, you turned around a second time and signed the word “poop”. I spent about 3 minutes trying to decide if I was annoyed by this or thought it was funny. I’ve decided it’s funny, because becoming a big kid is hard. Wanting to be a funny cool kid is hard. And the sign for “poop” is funny and I don’t think any of the other parents know it. And at least it wasn’t a different sign.

Oh Simon. Watching you grow up makes me wonder how I will ever manage to make it without my heart exploding into a million pieces with love for you and your brother.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

Poop.

XOXO

Mandy

Simon, Questions Age 6

I haven’t written his annual letter yet, but I think about him all the time. So grown up and still so innocent, I’m grasping into these last moments when he still wants to cuddle and snuggle with me. He still reaches for my hand when we walk places. I am so in love with this growing boy.

“Mommy I’m just going to go and read my book out on the porch before school, OK?”

1. What is your favorite color?

“Dark yellow. I mean gold.”

2. What is your favorite toy?

“This thing that has a rip cord that has a ninja on it” LEGO Ninjago thing Lisa got me.

3.  What is your favorite tv show or movie?

Big Hero 6

“Send this to Grandpa. It’s my teenager face.”

4. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?

“Peanut butter and jelly but NOT WITH THE FAKE PEANUT BUTTER”

5.  What is your favorite outfit?

My Big Hero 6 shirt

6. What is your favorite game?

chess
7. What is your favorite snack?

candy. or apple slices with peanut butter

8. What is your favorite animal? Camel

“Let’s take a picture of us in our glasses.”

9. What is your favorite song?

“I don’t really sing that much songs. I like the star spangled banner.”

10.  Who is your best friend? Tommy.

11.  Where is your favorite place to go?

Kids’ Club

12. What would you like to learn more about now that you’re 6?

“Inventions. Like, that they can do all your chores when your mom doesn’t know. She doesn’t know that you have a robot…”

Walking home from school.

13. What do you love about yourself?

“That I have glasses. I like wearing glasses. I like my skeleton.”

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14. What does Daddy do at work?

“He makes sure people drive safely. He doesn’t teach people how to drive anymore.”

15. What does Mommy do at work?

“Works at a library. You help people find books.”

16. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?

“I like to take my mommy to bed at night.”

17. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

cereal bars

18. What do you want to be when you grow up?

An Inventor

Here are Simon’s answers at age 5.

Updates- July 2015

I am embarrassed by how much I’ve neglected our little blog. When I finally get time to sit down and relax, I never think to update here. Sometimes I just think about how much there is to update, and it gets overwhelming.

I mean, all in all, not much as changed. The day to day is the same- working through the week, busy on the weekends, chasing George around and carting Simon to tball or Kids’ Club or the park. But let me see if I can paint some broad strokes here.

DSC_0203  Simon ended his Kindergarten year with a late spring Y-Tribe camping trip, and a final musical program. He had a great year and I don’t think he really knew that there was a “summer vacation” off of school until the very end. Technically for him, there wasn’t really a summer vacation since he goes to childcare all summer long, but in between the end of school and Kids’ Club beginning, we took a trip to Hilton Head with my parents and siblings’ families, and it was so fun, and funny. 6 kids between the ages of 6 months old and 5 years old. It was hardly “relaxing” but it wDSC_0310as definitely memorable and I loved spending time with my family.  Simon loved going to see the music performer Shannon Tanner almost every night. We came home with the CD. The DVD. The Shirt. The Hat. We went on the Pirate Cruise. I think it’s safe to say that Simon is Shannon’s Biggest Fan.
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The weather was perfect in Hilton Head and we stopped on the way down and on the way back at Nonni and Papa’s house, just long enough to have a nice meal and hangout, wishing we could do it more often.
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June was also the start of T-ball, which was every week for four weeks. Practice was on Mondays and Wednesdays, games were on Fridays. It was quite a lot! But George loved going to the park so often, and we only got rained out like — 3 times? So it was a good time. Almost everyone Simon’s age in our neighborhood played t-ball so it was a nice way to keep in touch with kids over the summer.

We managed to catch up with my mom’s side of the family at a somewhat imprompu Family Reunion for my Aunt Karen’s 70th birthday. The boys were really good in the car and the weather was beautiful. I saw my cousins for the first time in years, and met many second-cousins I’d never met before. It was a nice afternoon to catch up and have great food and conversation.

We celebrated the fourth of July by walking down to the Grandview Yard and having a little picnic. George couldn’t hang for too long because – bedtime. But Simon and I stayed to watch the fireworks they put off downtown. He got a really cool light up sword and it was nice to have a little “Date night” for just him and me.

And recently Simon’s learned how to ride his bike with no training wheels! He picked it up really quickly and I am so proud of how fearless he was at giving it a try. Now he asks to go on bike rides a lot. I also got a bike but have been nervous aout riding again! I don’t feel as confident as he does, I suppose.

This summer has flown by all too fast. We are now prepping for Simon’s’ birthday and another trip to South Carolina, this time to see family, and then school will start on August 18th. First Grade for Simon, and a new daycare setting for George. We have had an awesome summer with lots of fun things to do. I cannot believe how fast these two guys are growing up. I waffle between wanting to slow it down, and trying to catch up. But I always always know how very lucky I am, I have the three best dudes on the planet. Lucky lucky me. XO

For George, month 18

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**I wrote this in July, and never added photos. Now I’m well past 20 months and behind yet again. Just believe me when I tell you George, we are busy keeping up with you and your antics.**

Dear George,

Yesterday we had your 18 month appointment, and you have lost 2 pounds. You also grew 2 inches. You are becoming a little boy before you even turn two. This is happening for you far faster than it happened with Simon, who still had chub around his wrists and ankels until he was at least 3. You have stretched out already. You are a very picky eater, and I think it’s still mostly a texture issue for you. You like melted cheese, bread, mac and cheese, bread, meat, yogurt. You will only drink milk out of a bottle, twice a day (nap and bedtime) 4 oz. each time. Otherwise you will only drink water out of a sippy cup. Nothing else. Your favorite treats are yogurt melts, goldfish and pirate booty. You also like animal crackers, graham crackers and cookies. You like carbs and meat. You do not like grapes. You do not like strawberries or blue berries or any berries for that matter. You are a really interesting kid to feed, George.

You stopped calling us Mama and Dada last week. We are firmly Mommy and Daddy now. Your favorite thing to say is “Doe Doe” and sign “go-go”. You want to Go. You don’t even try to say Simon’s name anymore. But, you sign it frequently. When one of us isn’t there, you ask for the rest of us. You want us all together, all the time. I think this is from our vacation last week. I think if we could all sleep in one room forever, you would be happy. So would Simon, honestly. You adore your big brother and will run to him to give him hugs a lot. Simon loves you right back. You sometimes bully him and take his stuff. He doesn’t stop you from doing it, because he is not great at conflict (unless it’s with his parents).

Your favorite things to do are movement and music. Your favorite songs of the moment are Wheels on the Bus and Bringing Home my Baby Bumblebee, but any song at any time will make you move and dance. You also like to wash your hands over and over, and play with running water. You like to be up on my hip or back, and you still like to be carried around in the Ergo carrier.

You love books, but don’t sit still long for them. Before nap and bedtime you drag out the routine asking for more books. You are quick to bring them to us and sit in our laps for a story. Your favorites are No no, Yes Yes, Little Blue Truck, Are you My Mother, Bedtime Peek-a-boo, Baby Signs, and every Mickey Mouse (“hot dog”) book you can find.

You thrive on routine, you like knowing what’s coming next. You are VERY smart and understand whatever we’re telling you. Sometimes you don’t like it, but if I explain to you why we’re doing something, or what we’re doing next, you do seem to understand. It’s very strange how very rational and irrational you can be all at once.

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You have these curls, these fantastic curls at the back of your head. I spray them with water and detangling spray so they look bouncy and adorable. Your dad makes fun of me for “styling” your hair but everyone who sees you compliments you on these curls. I love them. You look like 100% little boy, so no one has confused you for a girl yet.

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You have completed this family and we are so happy to have you in it. As you grow up, and I get rid of baby things each week, a part of me is sad that the “baby” part of raising you is coming to an end. You were not an easy baby, though- so it’s bittersweet. But your dad and I are also very excited about all of the  Big Kid stuff we’ll get to do in the near future- like amusement parks and camping, throwin the football or frisbee, sporting events and more.

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I am madly in love with you and worry I don’t get to show you enough. But rest easy knowing that you are so very special to me, and we love you so very very much Georgie boy.

XO