To Simon, month 96


Dear Simon,

Oh Simon, you are 8. How is that possible? 8?! You were just a baby, I swear it. You just had stinky milk cheese stuck in the fat rolls of your neck. It feels like yesterday, and yet- a million years ago. You are still the sweetest boy I’ve ever met. Of course I am biased, but others often tell me how kind you are, how good you are, how sweet you are. But they don’t need to tell me, because I know.


Our weekday mornings together are lovely but short. Your dad and I are up at 5am most mornings. Part of that is due to George climbing into our bed and kicking us in our faces, but also we start the day early. I’ll go exercise to get it out of the way before you wake up, and Dad goes into work early. Dad and George leave the house by 6:45am and I hop in the shower while you still sleep. At about 7am your Batman alarm will go off and I’ll hear you grumble and groan about not wanting to get up or go to school or do ANYthing, but that’s usually the grumpiest part of your day, because you love your sleep, as you always have, forever.


But you dress yourself now, as most 8 year olds do. Then you go downstairs and watch your favorite show, Lab Rats, while I get myself ready for the day. Some mornings you’ll sit with me and pack your lunch and listen to a Story Pirates podcast. Sometimes you’ll talk to me about your day. I prefer it when you don’t watch a show, but since George isn’t around, it’s really the only time you don’t have to choose a show HE wants. So I know that’s important time for you, too.


You have a phone/watch combo, that allows me to reach you in the mornings we both need to leave at the same time. You “check in” with me and send messages from time to time, asking when I will pick you up after school or just to say “I love you.”

We celebrated your birthday with your Aunt Kim and family. We all went to Pittsburgh to Kennywood and you stayed with them a few days, and we just treated you over and over to fun. We had such a good time. You did, too. You had a chocolate chip cookie cake and pizza for dinner.


There are parenting milestones that we’ve reached this year that you never really think about when you become a parent of a new baby.

  • This year we all have been camping (in cabins) several times, but you and Dad slept all night in a tent and you loved it.
  • This year you got your first “phone/watch/activity tracker” that gives you some freedoms you didn’t have before.
  • This year you had your first sleepover party at a friend’s house without us. You stayed at Luca’s for his birthday and you got a flashlight and a pair of pajama pants as a party favor. You fell asleep by 10:30 and woke at 8, so I was told.
  • You lost your first tooth this year, and ONLY tooth so far. It’s a bottom front one, and the adult tooth is almost all the way through. You only have 1 other loose tooth now, and most kids in your grade already have adult teeth completely in. Your smile is still the prettiest, in my mind. But that other bottom tooth is so wiggly and gross! You like to wiggle it with your tongue to make me shriek and get the shivers.
  • You have started packing your own lunch.
  • You have started taking piano lessons, and you’re quite good at recognizing music, already. I’ve broken the news to you “we’re not quitting piano, buddy” about 100 times even though you complain EVERY time your alarm goes off to practice. But I am so proud of all you’ve learned so far, and I like those ten minutes when we sit together and I help you learn. So so proud.
  • You’ve decided “Baseball is my sport” and that is just fine with us.
  • You’ve started walking to school on your own, without me. You still hold my hand when we walk together, though. And on the first day of 3rd grade- while other kids’ parents were left in the dust on the front sidewalk of RLS School, you clasped my hand tight and told your friend walking in with you, “My mom always walks me to my classroom on the first day.”
  • We’ve started watching PG-13 movies together (Spiderman Homecoming and Adventures in Babysitting!) and tell each other firmly “now THAT was inappropriate” during the bad words/dirty parts and laugh.

There are so many other things I should remember that I’m sure  I’ve missed. I wish I could write down or bottle up every sweet moment with you, but there are so many that I feel so lucky to swim in your goodness every moment I can.


There are parts of childhood that are slipping away from us though. Your brother has outgrown most of your toddler clothes. They’re leaving our house by the bagful. There are only a few more pairs of your old shoes that are durable enough to pass on to George. And once they’re gone, they’re just gone. We have an umbrella stroller still hanging on a hook in the back mudroom, the one that strolled your little body everywhere from Disneyland, California to Hilton Head, South Carolina. It is one of the last baby things of yours’ that we still own.

It is terribly sad and I do mourn baby-you….but the Big Kid You is so much better than I could have imagined.  You make me laugh so hard with some of the things you say. You are so thoughtful. Today you told me that you and Nolan (your best friend ) “are gonna make millions” on this magic trick you’ve learned. You’re going to charge people $.10 per trick and wait for all the money to roll in. I asked what you would do with the money and you said “buy a mansion” and when I reminded you that with Big Money comes Big Responsibility to help others, you said “Oh I know. I don’t want to be like Mr. Scrooge. Or Trump.” I JUST LOVE YOU SO MUCH, KID.


You  know, you’re 8 and getting you to take a shower is sort of a pain and you grumble a lot more than you did when you were 6. But I’ll take those eye-rolls and grumbles along with the hand-holding and signed “I love you’s” from the neighbor’s front porch. Because I do know that the latter will eventually go away and be replaced with the eyerolls and the OMG-MOM’s etc.


I’m trying my best to wade through the magna-tiles and Playmobil toys on my rug still at 9:30pm and NOT MESS UP THE TOWER just because the day is done. After all,  it TOOK A LONG TIME TO BUILD and you might not get it back just the same way again. I will continue to cuss to myself each time I step on or sweep up a Lego person. I will continue to book tickets to plays and take you on root beer float and ice cream dates for no reason because I have thought to myself lately (more often than ever)— what on earth will I do when he’s gone?

That last part sounds dire, but I find that sometimes it’s easier to process things if I take a “worst-case-scenario approach” to preparedness. And the truth is, someday sooner than I could ever guess, you will be grown and you won’t reach for my hand, and there will be no more Legos, and instead of hearing your feet patter to the bathroom WELL past bedtime, I will be looking at my phone wondering if you’ll remember to call me.


You are such a special boy to me. But more than that, you are meant to be a special person to the world. We’ve been struggling with some people at school who haven’t been very kind. And I told you to keep killing them with kindness because…it is hard to be mean to someone who is being nice in return. And I would never tell you this, but knowing someone hurt your feelings made me want to pop this said kid right in the nose, but instead I did the right thing and told you the same thing my mom told me.

Be kind, be kind, be kind.

I hope that’s the right things to do. Because I’ve also told you recently, “This is the first time I’ve ever been a mom. I hope I’m doing OK.”

I love you so much. It is my life’s work to make sure that you know it.

All my heart,

Mom

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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

Kindergarten Teacher Conference.

Last night we had our first Parent Teacher conference for Simon.
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Simon’s teacher has been teaching for 24 years. She is very kind but firm, and incredibly knowledgeable and on top of things. It is quite clear she knows what she’s doing, and Simon really loves her. I knew she was no-nonsense in the first interaction we had with her at the initial orientation, and I was worried that she didn’t appear to be as touchy-feely as some of the other teachers that were at that meeting. As it ends up, my nervousness was uncalled for (go figure) and she has been a great match for Simon this year.

Gabe and I sat in the hallway, after talking briefly with two sets of parents who have sat through other orientations with us- first preschool two years ago (when George was just a glimmer in my eye). “Weren’t they just three years old?” one of the moms asked. “Yes!” I agreed.

We were given his writing journal and some classroom books to peruse as we waited. The teacher was running late, but we didn’t mind. There was artwork to look at in the hallways and I loved looking through his writing journal. Right now, it is filled with pictures of him doing things- climbing on the monkey bars, playing with his friend Max, and going to a ptrnm (planetarium) with his daddy.

The other morning, when I would not let him wear sweatpants he could pull up above his knees to school, he angrily told me he was going to write a sad face in his writing journal about me.

I looked for an angry face in the journal but didn’t find it. (Instead he wrote a love letter to his daddy, but that’s okay.)
“My dadeluvsme” it says.

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When we finally got into the room, the teacher offered us some candy and a seat in the tiny little chairs. Gabe made a joke asking about the weight limit, but she thought he’d be fine. We sat nervously crouched and the first words out of her mouth were, “Simon is such a sensitive boy, and reminds me so much of my Adam.”

Simon is such a sensitive boy. He is.

She relayed a story from that day, stating that the students were having a rough time during Read to Self time, and she had to ask a few of the boys to go back to their seats. Simon was one of those boys. She said as she continued on working with the other children, she looked back at Simon, who had two giant alligator tears running down his face. “I felt so bad, ” she said. But obviously, he needs to listen and follow rules like everyone else.

Simon is such a sensitive boy.

She then told us about his reading, and showed us on a chart how far he has improved in just three short months of being at school. She says, “He knows every letter sound!” as if that was a surprise. She is happy with his progress academically, and showed us some ways we can work on math at home. Counting and adding and games for the ipad and computer. I grimaced a little when she told us his reading level and suggested things that I consider Screen Time, but all in all the report was wonderful, his teacher is wonderful.

“It is easy to tell how Simon is feeling, just by looking at him.”

I love that Simon feels things so greatly. I also worry because it is easy to be heartbroken when you are such a sensitive person. I know this from experience.

Simon is such a sensitive boy. I hope he grows into a sensitive man.

I just love the little person he is becoming.

With all of the fits and fights and frustrations that come along with the push and pull of parenting…

I am so proud to be his mama. So very very poud.

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Stink

Stink has found his right hand. He concentrates very hard on it. He will open and close the fingers if you explain to him how to do it, show him, over and over- for about 5-10 minutes. Still not quite sure what to do with it. But is very interested in the hand itself.

Stink and his right hand.

And here’s the picture that only took 15 other pictures before we got the smile right…

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What’s in a name?

So I was thinking- whenever I talk about my mom and dad in regards to Simon, I call them Grandma and Grandpa Simon, which eventually might confuse the boy. Henceforth, I will be calling them Grandma and Grandpa Lee, since growing up I called our paternal grandparents Grandma and Grandpa George- and in fact didn’t know their last name was the same as mine until I was roughly 8 years old and went on a trip to the mailbox with Grandma George. I remember the specific moment when I realized we were actually related and she was my dad’s mom. Funny, huh.

Anyways. Since my last name is still Simon, people still call me Simon at work- which is totally fine with me and doesn’t sound weird at all…though I think it makes other people feel weird to call me Simon since I just named my baby Simon.

But anyways, the point of this post is:

With all the name confusion due to Gabe and I not being married- (hospitals apparently still operate under the antiquated assumption that all babies come from married parents) we keep receiving bills for Baby Boy Simon, Baby Simon, and yesterday– Mandy Geig.

(That was weird to see.)

None of those people live here, so I don’t think we should have to pay them.

Thoughts?

Raindrops on roses…

I am halfway through a glass of wine and it’s midnight. I should go to bed but I’m not going to yet. I’m in a mood…a good mood, a wine-mood. And as such I wanted to blog some of my favorite things.

Watching any member of my family interact with Simon. It’s so neat to see how they look at him, talk to him and laugh at the silly things he does. Today my brother Brett came over for a short visit and it was so neat to watch him hold Simon. Also my mom was here overnight and she was so helpful and awesome with the baby. I wish so much that they (mom and dad) lived closer so we could hang out more often. Thankfully they got tickets to the upcoming game this weekend so both mom and dad will be in town again soon.

Drinking wine…with my mom, or after I put the boy to bed. It is my unwinding time, and it’s funny but I feel most like a “mom” after I put Simon down…because I feel like I have a few hours to relax and get things done. I always wondered as a kid why parents seemed so eager to get us to bed. Now I know why.

The bedtime “routine” we’re doing. It includes bath, a bottle and bed.  I put on the Bedtime with the Beatles CD or another CD with great music on it and we make the mood in the room all chillaxed-out and I rock the baby to sleep. I can tell that he’s picking up on the routine of it all and he likes it. Mind you, he is an incredibly smart 7 week old.

Our ocean sounds machine from Target. We had to retire Sleep Sheep because he broke (boooo). We loved Sleep Sheep so. That’s a whole other story. (I wrote them a letter!)  But we replaced him with a sound machine that plugs in (have I mentioned how many batteries I’ve bought since becoming a parent!?) to the wall and plays the sound of the ocean all night long. We.Love.It.

Not working. Enough said. Actually I shouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t mind going back to work either part time- OR full time if I had someone related to me to watch the baby AND if I had regular hours.

When Gabe comes home from work. He comes home on his lunch hour if we’re here and when he comes home period. It’s adorable to watch Simon react to Gabe’s voice and presence. And it’s just nice to have my partner here to help me out.

Simon’s attempts at crawling up me and out the window behind me. I’ll put the video below, but it doesn’t even really capture how hilarious it is to watch him try to climb up and over me. He loves the windows in our living room. I think it’s the contrast of the dark wood and the white blinds, along with our bright red curtains, he stares and stares at the windows. When I hold him on my chest, he tries to climb toward the window and it’s adorable.

Walking. My mom and I took the baby on a fast paced walk up the BIG hill to Panera today for breakfast. I got the stroller together all by myself. I feel like this is something I could do on my own now, and I plan to tomorrow- weather permitting.

My new Swiffer Wet Jet. It leaves the floor smelling clean and fresh.

The fact that the Buckeye game should be on our tv this weekend. Yahoo!

This face:

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And this one:

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Did I mention the wine?

Here’s the promised video:


quickly quickly

I want to write a couple of things before the baby wakes up and I have to do them QUICKLY. Because I have to do everything quickly while the baby is sleeping…like laundry and making beds and cleaning up messes I made this morning and making coffee to brew for GODONLYKNOWSWHEN tomorrow morning and mopping and straightening because company is coming…and more. And the entire time I have one ear to the front room listening for his stirring…

Because I put him in the swing. And I feel like a total neglectful parent when I put him in the swing. I might as well put him in some sort of sleep chamber. I swear as soon as I place his butt in the seat his eyes get heavy. I know it will immediately make him pass out so if I need a few moments to get things done—> swing. And I hate myself for it.

I DO however entertain the little man when I have stuff to do that I can tote him around with me…like putting away laundry or ironing or things of that nature. And we sing. And we play and we dance. I make sure I interact with him. I borrowed a bunch of books from the library about how to make your baby’s brain work better…I do all that stuff. But still- I put him in that swing to get him to sleep when I need to. Maybe that makes me a bad parent. I don’t know.

Other things I wanted to note before I forgot:

I do not get all mushy gushy about a lot of things- even my baby. However, while I’m doing laundry or cleaning up the house, if I find one of his little booties randomly stuck in our laundry basket or on the floor, it can literally send me to tears. For some reason I see myself picking up this kid’s socks for the next 18 years and the fact that they are so tiny and adorably cute right now just melts me.

I am eating an insane amount of “oats” to increase my milk supply and I think it’s working. Oatmeal, oatmeal cookies (they count!)…cereal with oats. I’m starting to become addicted I think. They’re tasty and filling and good for you. And I’m noticing that there are more little yellow-capped bottles of my breastmilk in the fridge which may be a result of the oat-eating or it could be a result of…me attempting to chill out about pumping all the time. I have stopped looking at the clock and started just doing it when I can and when I feel I should. I also have given the little guy some formula in between when I don’t feel like wrangling with him while I try to warm a bottle. Formula will not kill the boy, and he’s still getting breastmilk. I have to constantly tell myself to relax about it. I was giving myself anxiety and starting to resent the boy as I sat and sulked in my corner pumping every 2-3 hours. Now I feel better as long as I keep my tendency to freakout in check.

I  am now “saving” outfits. This means, if I feel like I look good in something, I will wear it out of the house for an hour or two, then immediately come home, take it off, hang it up and put on crap clothes again because there are so few things that make me feel presentable….and if I don’t take it off it will likely become covered in breast milk or poop.

We have been successfully putting Simon down earlier in the evenings in his own bed and it’s working! (Now I’ve jinxed it and it won’t work..watch) Bath, bottle, bed.

However, though he is clean this morning I smelled something…cheesy….on the boy. I thought it could be his neck folds- the poor kid gets milk in his chins and it starts to stink…but I cleaned them with a washcloth and still kept smelling stinky cheese when I held him. A few hours later while he fell asleep in my arms and his tiny mouth dropped open into a perfect little “Oh” I took a deep breath in and realized ….it’s the poor bugger’s breath that stinks! Haha! Not only that but when I put him down to sleep, and went to change my clothes, I also realized that I had dried spit up between my boobs and THAT was also what was smelling. The combination….gross and adorable.

The baby books say that he should be “cooing” and “ooohh”ing and “aahhh”ing by now but mostly all Simon does is grunt. Like a piglet. He grunts when he does everything- it’s pretty funny. He also squeaks (as noted from previous entry/video).

Last night was kind of trying because I was up from 4am to about 6:30am consoling the poor boy who just had the farts- nothing else…just the farts. It pains me to see how hard it is for him to pass gas. Honestly it sounds so painful- and LOUD! So here’s hoping I don’t forget to load him up with gas relief drops before we go to sleep tonight. I almost lost it last night!

Okay well that’s all I have time for now. I still have more straightening to do and the boy will stir shortly, as his incessant need for food will certainly wake him up in the next 15-20 minutes.