Nine is Just Fine

My dear, sweet Eddie, how are you possibly nine already?

showing off your fishing badge you earned with grandpa

This past year has been maybe the moodiest since your colicky days as a baby. I can tell you are starting to grow out of little kidness in some ways, but not in others.

You are getting “too cool” for things your brother and sister still love like watching Curious George before bed or Paw Patrol at lunch time. You get a little bossy with your siblings and we have to remind you that while yes, you are their big brother, you are not their parent. You would LOVE if you were able to hand out consequences to them for various infractions. The problem is they–Charlie especially–rage against you as a machine.

 

 

 

In other ways you are still my little dude. You love to snuggle at bedtime and read Harry Potter with me (we are currently in the home stretch of The Goblet of Fire). Your stuffed animals and toddler pillow still have a prominent place in your bed, and you love to be wrapped up in a blanket (who doesn’t!?!).

Speaking of Harry Potter, that is probably the biggest thing that happened this year: you (and ok, I too) became obsessed! One of my most favorite things is our bedtime reading sessions and discussions. I love that you think about the books all the time and bring up plot points and theories out of the blue. We have been watching the movies after each book, and hearing you compare them critically is…man, I don’t know how to do describe it. I’ll say this: when my students really get something we are doing and they start taking off on their own with the learning and connecting and analyzing, I am known to get welled up and tears fall. It’s about a million times bigger watching it happen with you.

You conquered third grade this year. It was by FAR your best school year since Kindergarten. You’ve never had a rough year, but you loved your teacher this year, you made really close friends, and you learned so much. You’re still working on your social control (you tend to interrupt and chat rather than get work done), but you come by those things naturally (sorry, not sorry?) and you are kind and respectful when redirected. That is important.

Your classmates voted you to get the LOL (laugh out loud) award, and none of us were surprised. A girl your age at church once commented, “Everything is fun when Eddie is there!” It makes my heart smile to know you bring joy to those around you.

3rd Grade Folk Dance Night

This year you were a Bear Scout. You did a ton of work this year and earned a couple elective badges. One was your fishing badge with grandpa. You found out you enjoy doing badge work on your own, so when you crossed over and got your Webelos book, we dug in to see which badges would be fun to do this summer and next. And of course, you even crossed from Bear to Webelos scout with your own personal flair.

This year you played both soccer and baseball. You didn’t really love either. Soccer was too early on Saturdays for you and baseball this year was Little League and you felt you were bad at it. I’ll tell you what your dad and I have told you over and over: you are actually quite good…if you practice. You can pitch and hit and field, but you don’t practice. When you don’t get something right 100% of the time, you feel you are bad at it. This could be a good, motivating trait, except rather than use it to want to be better, you quit.

I was the same way at your age, but I don’t want to tell you that right now. I don’t want that to be an excuse. I want you to do better than I did. You are more interested than I was in sports. You like being part of the team. You just have to learn that you can’t be good at things without a lot of practice.

You still love Pokemon cards, drawing comic strips (your own original character, Sargent Socks, which to be fair is really just Captain Underpants meats Dogman fan fiction, but whatever), and watching all the TV you can (which we have had to pull the plug on, so to speak because it was getting clear you couldn’t manage yourself).

Your relationships with your siblings are, shall we say, passionate. Especially with Charlie. You guys can be the best of friends or the worst of enemies. You play nicely together, plot together, and even have after bedtime chats about school and bullies. He looks up to you and wants to be like you. You often say Charlie is stronger and better at things than you, but when I ask Charlie who he wants for a teacher he says, “whoever Eddie had.” And when I ask him what sports he wants to play, he answers, “whatever Eddie does.” He thinks you are the coolest. He sees that people love you at school, and he wants a part of that too.

Most of the time, he goes about it wrong by tackling you or picking fights. We are working on that. But behind all of it, he just sees how confident you are and wants to feel that way too.

Alice loves you unconditionally. You two rarely bicker. Sometimes she is a little annoying–she is three and you are nine and you don’t always want to have a tiny tot watching your every move. But mostly she knows you will help her or read to her or play with her.  You two have very similar personalities, so she is drawn to your silliness. This keeps us all chuckling pretty much nonstop.

My Eddie, my Bear, I can’t believe you’ve been here for 9 years already. I look at your adorable freckles, your almond-shaped blue eyes, your long lashes, and your crooked smile and wonder where did you come from? How did I make you in my body? Where were you before you were here? Your long legs and expanding feet are proof that you are growing from baby to little boy to now that weird tweener age that will soon geek-a-fy your whole body until you burst into adolescence and puberty to becoming a man.

It’s wonderfully weird to watch.

I’m so thankful you ask me all the questions that come to your head from who gets to have a godfather? How does 911 know which emergency service to send when you call? and what is suicide? I love that you still trust me to have answers and to be truthful with you. I promise to always be as truthful as I can with you.

I hope you will continue to show kindness and compassion to others. As you get older, it will be easier to just be sassy and whiney and ignore those who are in need. It’s easier to think about your own wants and what people think of you. Don’t give in to that. Think about the feelings of others. Be generous with your thank you’s and your let me help’s.

I love you, my dear boy.

Happy 9th birthday.

Love,

Mom

More Than a Handful

Dear Charlie Bird,

Yesterday you turned six.

Unfortunately I have my grad class on Tuesday nights this semester which meant I was going to not see you all day. That seemed wrong, so we decided to both play hooky from school and spend the day together before I had to go to class. I took a personal day and excused you from Kindergarten. When you woke me up just after 8am, you had already made a list of how we were going to spend out day that included: breakfast, playing megablocks, relaxing and watching TV, meeting daddy at McDonald’s (the one with the play place) for lunch, getting your free cupcake from Barnes and Noble, and baking your birthday cake.

We did all those things and much more. It was a busy day, but we both agreed it was one of our favorite days in a long, long time.

It’s hard to believe that you are six already. Time flies when you are laughing and screaming and loving and pouting. You started this life as such a mellow kid; I should have known you would be my greatest roller coaster.

This past year has brought lots of changes and growing pains for you. Kindergarten has been wonderful and challenging. You have learned a lot very quickly, and sometimes in the exhaustion of all that learning and growth, your toddler needs for screaming and cuddling sneak out. We find out precious little about your day because you keep things very close to yourself. You refer to kids in your class as “the classmate who I don’t sit by anymore,” rather than giving us names. We have to ask very pointed questions if we want specific info, and even then there is a good chance you will flat out not share with us.

You play your cards very close to your chest and prefer not to be a snitch. Not bad qualities, my son. Just not qualities that I am used to since Eddie and I are so different. Where we verbalize literally everything that comes into our brain, you ponder things for a long time before you speak on them. And even then you may not say anything, more like your daddy than your mom mom.

You are still my lightest, pickiest eater. Some days you refuse foods that I know you like. You like control and I think this is a way you can feel like you have control when nothing else seems sure. I worry about this. Thankfully, you seem to go in phases and I have been assured that for your age this is completely normal. And you seem receptive when the doctors tell you that you need to choose healthful foods if you want to be fit enough for sports–which you love.

This fall you played soccer for the first time and loved it! You are already asking when the next season is. This spring you will play baseball, but you wish it was soccer.

I guess you are what people mean when they say “strong, silent type.” You are a tough kid, yes, but your strength is mostly in personality. You may not give much of yourself away–at least not until you warm up–you definitely have your own sense of humor and style. You have a quick wit and a response to everything. Many times it’s unkind since you refuse to be left speechless.

While your personality and stubborn streak are strong, so is your ability to love. You thrive on closeness and touch and still cuddle up very close to me the way you have ever since you were born. While quiet, that does not mean you don’t need the arms of your mom mom. And your lovies. Your bed is a veritable zoo of lovies–each one special for a different reason. Each one fulfilling a purpose for you.

You are clever and enjoy problem-solving. You like to create new games by drawing game boards, making up rules with cards, making our rubiks cube a die to roll for the game, and so on. You are constantly dreaming up things you can create with recycling that is set out for the bin or bits of paper and endless tape. No seriously, you go through tape like you are getting paid per use. We almost gave you some for Christmas so you would stop using ours.

You love to play games with me, daddy, and Eddie (and even Alice in a pinch, but that never ends well), but you are also very content to play alone with your blocks, Legos, and trucks. You can play with play-doh for hours.

You have a hard time with the word, “no,” as I think most six-year olds do. Heck, even adults struggle with a “no” answer. Being told “no” often triggers very BIG FEELINGS that you are still having a hard time finding a positive outlet for.

Even though you still struggle with verbalizing the Big Feelings that overwhelm you, and sometimes the only words you can find are extremely hurtful, there is no doubt in my mind that you feel loved and a part of this family. The other day I caught you singing a little song that both made me smile and laugh:

I am loved.
I am loved.
I am so loved.
I am loved by my mommy.
I am loved by my daddy.
I am loved by Alice.
I am loved sometimes by Eddie.

Even when my mom is stupid.
Even when my dad is stupid.
Even when Alice is stupid.
Even when Eddie is always stupid.
Even when In am mean and bad…

I am still loved.

You didn’t know I heard you, so I kept my giggles to myself. You are trying out words that you know are hurtful. When you yell them, we ignore you. When you direct them at us, we let you know they are hurtful. But clearly, you know that no matter what you do, we love you so very much.

I love you so fiercely, Charlie. My biggest fear is that you will think that you could do something to separate yourself from my love–because you can’t. I know you test this theory often, but I think you have noticed a pattern–one that always ends in a hug and an “I love you, Charlie Bird.”

And that is what it comes down to: I love you. So much. It is hard being your mom at times. I definitely feel like I fall short of being what you need since your needs seem so mysterious. I hope I am what you need. I hope I am your soft place to land and the support that will always been there for you.

No matter what.

You will always be my buddy. My Charlie Bird.

Happy Birthday, Birdie.

Love,

Mom Mom

Threenager

Dear Alice,

Today you are three!

You have been looking forward do this day since Christmas. It’s the first year that I think you really understand what a birthday is and that you are getting one.  When asked what you want for your birthday, you enthusiastically declare, “PINK!” So pink it shall be!

Alicita, you are my favorite girl in the whole world. I had no idea I needed you until you arrived. I can’t believe I was so nervous about having a little girl in the house; although I know we have the hormonal teenage years ahead of us, these first three years are nothing like I thought they would be. They have been full of wonder and joy that only a very new soul can bring. Our entire family needed that. Your dad and I had some rough patches, and your brothers are very old souls. You came in as the caboose of our family with all the fascination of a brand new soul.

it is getting VERY hard to get a non-blurry picture of you since you are ALWAYS moving!

I told you your birth story the other night. You laughed and laughed at the idea that you used to live in my belly. Then you asked why I was crying. I didn’t realize until I told you the story how much you have healed me, my sweet daughter. Eddie’s birth traumatic in so many ways; I suffered a long time after. Charlie’s birth showed me how it could be, and when he and I were left alone in our hospital room I whispered to him, “you are not the last.”

When you were born, Alice, everything was how it should be. I knew the minute you snuggled into my arms that you were the caboose–our last baby. But I wasn’t sad. I was filled with joy. Everything about you has been easier–getting up for those middle of the night feedings, putting you to bed at night, even playing has been easier with you. I have felt more natural in my role as your mommy, than I have ever felt before.

Age three is a tough year; I’m not going to lie. I know this because I have been through it with your brothers. This is the year you will grow to be a big girl; you will shed all the baby parts: the boppy (pacifier) will go to the Boppy Fairy and you will (hopefully) potty train. By the time this rotation around the sun is over, you will be be a big girl all ready to go to school. I would be 100% lying to you if I said that I was all excitement about this. You will hear this a lot, but you are the last one. You are my last baby. My last toddler. And now my last Little Kid. It’s hard to let go of a time that was so cute and so much fun, and admit that our entire family is done with those stages.

But LOOK AT YOU! You are such a happy little squish! You are so full of joy, that it’s impossible to stay sad! Since that first day, everything grey in my life has been made sunny by your face, your smile, your deep chuckle. You are the definition of delight, and to experience each new phase with you is nothing short of wonderful. You have a BIG personality and the facial expressions to match. You make us all laugh each day.

At age three, here are some things about you:

  • You love the color pink. LOVE IT. When asked what you wanted for Christmas? Pink! For your birthday? Pink! All pink, all the time.
  • Your favorite toys are your baby dolls, but specifically your Bitty Baby who you have named “Baby-cita”

  • You call me “Mommy-cita” and have made up a song that goes, “Mommy-cita went to town, EIEIO!” that you sing often and loudly.
  • You call Daddy either “DA DEE” or “DAD DOOOOO!”
  • You think you want to do everything your brothers do–like play in the snow–until you realize you don’t like to be uncomfortable (for instance you were instant that Santa would bring you snow pants and boots, but when you got them, you realized that snow is cold, and refused to go out in it).

  • You LOVE books.
  • You love to sing and dance.
  • You LOVE shoes and accessories and anything fancy.
  • You love to play dress up and pretend, and you are a wee bit bossy about it.

  • You love to do whatever I am doing which includes dressing the same, putting on pretend make-up, cooking, reading…you are my little shadow.
  • You hate when we tell you “no,” and will cry and pout and try to wait us out. Your stubbornness runs deep.
  • You will sit in your room to cry, and then come out to tell us that you are “done crying” or “ready to be nice.”
  • You are my pickiest eater…by FAR.
  • You love candy and sweets and carbs.

  • You favor me over your dad lately, which is weird for me because at this age both of your brothers favored your dad.
  • You are our most affectionate child–you love hugs and snuggles and holding hands and giving kisses
  • You love to count and can get up to twelve before starting to repeat numbers or make stuff up.
  • You tell me often that you are a “strong girl” and then you show me your muscles.
  • You never, ever call Charlie “Charlie;” it is ALWAYS “Birdie.”
  • Your favorite food other than candy is breakfast carbs like pancakes or french toast or muffins or cinnamon rolls or donuts.

Alice, you not only make our family complete, you make us better. We are a better version of The Sluiters with you as a part of us. I hope we can make your third birthday as beautiful and magical as you are, my sweet girl.

I love you so so much,

Mommy-cita

 

Eight is Great!

Dear Eddie,

You are eight and eight is GREAT, of course.

Let me tell you all about yourself as you are right now.

You are absolutely, without a doubt, my showman. You love to have people look at and listen to you. Ever since you could toddle around, you have wanted to play with or near me (or your dad). You want to be able to give running commentary on what you are thinking. Just today, you had the entire Lego bin upstairs so you could design and build and talk. Your mind is constantly working; the wheels constantly turning. I know this, because mine is exactly the same.

In fact, Daddy and I laugh sometimes at how we can be talking about one thing, and you start talking about something totally different with no segue or introduction or anything. We often have to stop and say, “wait. What are you talking about?” We laugh because I used to do the exact same thing–all the way until I was in college. Ok I still do it to some degree.

You are such a compassionate, deep thinker. You question everything shamelessly. I admire that about you. A few weeks ago you and I were riding in the car and you said to me, “Mom. Sometimes I find it so strange that I am who I am. Like I am in this body just being a person and seeing things through my eyes. I know, that’s sort of weird and I don’t know how to explain it.” But the thing is, Eddie? I totally knew what you were talking about. When I was your age, I used to just stare out a window and think those sort of thoughts too. Shoot. I still do.

You and I have so much in common. Our brains operate much the same way. This serves us well now; we have a great relationship. We enjoy being with each other because we enjoy the same things: reading, writing, relaxing, talking. Don’t get me wrong. You like a LOT of stuff I honestly don’t care much about: Pokemon, video games, Captain Underpants, and that stupid trout song from Puss in Books on Netflix. Actually we have almost zero in common when it comes to choosing what to watch on Netflix.

But we both like to be silly. We both think a lot. We both believe in being kind. We both want to make people smile. We both believe in standing up for what is just and right.

In fact, your 2nd grade teacher this year told Daddy and me that you were a little activist. Daddy rolled his eyes and said, “I wonder where he got that?” and looked at me. I was smiling hugely, because you and I are the same.

And yet, we are not the same in some key areas. At your age I was not as socially brave as you are. I was afraid to try new things because I was afraid to fail. You are confident and willing to give anything a go. You just want to have fun whether that is in sports or school or scouts. I would not say you are serious or particularly passionate about any one thing just yet. This is apparent when anyone asks you what you want to be when you grow up.

In your mind, the whole world is open to you. You can do whatever you set your heart on. And right now, it is true. But what I want you to know is that is a privilege for you. You live a very privileged life, my son. It’s not because we are rich, because we certainly are not. It is not because you get whatever you want when you want it, because you certainly do not. But by happenstance of birth, you live a very comfortable life. You were born into a white, middle-class family who lives in a nice little subdivision in an area of very low crime. You go to a good, affluent school district. You are male.

The world is yours, so to speak.

What I hope for you is that you recognize that privilege and use it for good:

That you give more than you take.

That you listen more than you speak.

That you stand up more than you stay seated.

That you speak out more than you stay silent.

That you shine the light on those who are often in the shadows more than you hog that light for yourself.

I believe you will do these things because you are already very interested in what is right and just. And honestly, we need you–and others your age–to step up because the grown-ups right now are busy making things a mess. There is still so much racism, sexism, classism, ableism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, xenophia…the list goes on and on. It seems that tolerance and love are buried under a lot of hate and fear.

Eddie, I know that your heart has more acceptance and love in it than anything else.

I know you will help to change the world.

I believe in you, Eddie Bear. I believe you can do what you set out to do. You will fail sometimes, yes. But I think if you are passionate and truly love, you will be successful.

I’m so glad you’re you.

And I am so honored that we are a part of each other.

I love you, my precious son.

Do great things with great love.

Happy 8th birthday.

Love,
Mom

To Me, At Thirty-Nine

Dear You,

Here you are again, at the end of decade. Your fourth decade. If you squint and lean in, you can maybe see a glimpse of the fifth decade looming. See it, over there on the horizon? It’s that tiny dot of light.

Yes, I said light.

From here, Forty appears to be full of light.

But for now you are Thirty-Nine.

Three hundred and sixty-five days of Thirty-Nine.

(Less now because it takes you so long to publish a post.)

What are we going to do with this last year as a thirty-something? We are all done with the pregnancy years. It’s been nine years since that first miscarriage, which means all “deliveries” were in your thirties. This year you will be the mom of a 2nd turned 3rd grader, a preschool turned kindergartener, and a two-turned-three year old. By the time you hit forty, there will not only be no more babies for you, but no more toddlers either.  You won’t be a mom of “Littles” anymore, but a mom of “young children”.

Over the past week, you’ve written and looked at and thought about the number 39 often.

Sometimes that number seems so big. Remember when your mom was this age? She was such a…mom.  You were fourteen. Thirty-nine is almost 40, after all. It’s so…adult. So grown-up. So…parental. I mean, can you believe you’ve been around for 39 years when college–heck high school–seems like it was ten minutes ago?

Sometimes that number seems small. Ok, maybe not small, but not so terribly big. Many of your friends are already in their forties and you don’t think of them as old or middle-age or anything weird. In fact, you strive to be like them: confident, happy, healthy.

You are not much of a bucket list person, so you don’t have a 40 before 40 or anything like that. You’re also not one for sitting around wishing you had done something differently. You can’t change the past, so it doesn’t do any good to over-analyze how you could have done things another way. Before you turn forty next year, though, there are a few things you will do.

You’re going to help your family be healthier. Cortney has family history of heart disease and cancer. You have cancer in your history too. It’s time to get serious about the fact that you are not young and invincible.

You’re going to take more photos with your Big Camera. You got that thing after Eddie was born and somehow decided it was too unwieldy to tote around with a baby. Well, there are no more babies in your family. Get it out. Get practicing.

You’re going to apply for a PhD program. This weekend you take the first of two GRE tests for that. You keep worrying that this will cause (more) financial strain on the family and that you will fail and that it’s a bad idea. Do it anyway. Cortney has repeatedly told you that he supports you and thinks this is the time to do it. Listen to him. He loves you and believes in you.

You’re going to incorporate more of your family’s faith into your every day lives. You just read a great book about this. Make a note to write a post about that book.

You’re going to get another tattoo  (sorry mom. sort of.)  Cortney gifted you half the cost for your birthday and you made the appointment and paid the 20% deposit. This will bring you such joy.

You’re going to spend quality one-on-one time with each kid. They tell other people how much they love it, so do it more. It’s important.

I know you worry a lot about time going to fast: it takes your babies and makes them toddlers; it takes your toddlers and makes them kids; it takes your own youth. You worry about not having enough time.

The truth is that you will never have enough time. It’s just not possible.

So you have to take what you’re given and do what you can with it.

It’s gonna be great. And a little terrible because that’s life. But mostly great.

Love,

Yourself

Five Alive

Dear Charlie Bird,

Today you are five. We had this conversation recently:

Me: Charlie! Next week you will be FIVE!
You (holding up all five fingers on one hand): I’ll be a whole handful!
Me: Oh buddy, you’ve been a whole handful for quite some time now.
You: Well then I will be a whole MIT-FULL!

Buddy, you have been my least easy child. And I say this with all the love in the world, my Birdie. You started this life in a sleepy, easy way. You spent your first year as a cuddly little guy who loved his sleep and who was super easy going. By the time you were two, you were very stubborn, did things your way, and communicated in screams and outbursts. Your feelings have grown so big that sometimes your small body just cannot contain them.

Now that you are five, you are starting to be able to vocalize those feelings. Your fits are fewer and your words, hugs, and helpfulness is plenty.

You tend to be reserved when you are in a new place, preferring to hang back and observe. Once you’ve warmed up, you are pretty independent, choosing to play on your own because you can have full control that way. You get along with other kids, you are just quieter and prefer to do your own thing.

You and Eddie can play super nice together, especially as you get older and you are not just a pesky little brother, but an actual playmate to him. However he is bossy and you like to do things your way which can lead to some fierce disagreements. The one person who you seem to have the most patience for is Alice. Yes, she can bug you from time to time when she wants to play with the cars you just set up in perfect rows, but if she seems interested in what you’re doing, you gladly make room for her. And when she asks you to play babies or tea party with her, you get everything set up and help her have fun.

She learns so much from you. Miss Carolyn even tells us that she watches you at daycare and will only eat her lunch if you are eating yours first. She looks up to both you and Eddie, but Eddie is more of her helper where you are the one she wants to play with and learn from. You two have a special bond I never would have guessed would happen, but that I hope will last forever.

You started Preschool this year! I admit I was nervous about how school would go for you. You go four afternoons a week. Because of your tantrums and lack of patience with yourself, Daddy and I braced ourselves for phone calls telling us you were under a table or in a closet and wouldn’t come out. But it never happened.

School has been probably the best thing that has happened to you. You love it and you are thriving! I know the fact that you have amazing teachers who love you help, but you, my Charlie, have been a natural. Your teachers tell us you are a “quiet leader” who always does the right thing. You struggle a little with writing (you are a leftie like daddy), but you know all your letters and their sounds and are ready to start sound-spelling! You catch on very quickly to anything with numbers; you can count to over a hundred!

You are most obsessed right now with Batman! You love dressing like him and having Batman everything! We even did a Batman birthday theme for you and Alice’s party (well, she had Mini Mouse). I probably shouldn’t read too much into it, but I feel like Batman fits you well. He also likes to be in control and have cool gadgets to tinker with. I can see why you are drawn to him. Plus he wears a cool mask, and I know wearing a mask helps you feel less “seen”, which is more comfortable for you.

You and Daddy are a lot of like in many ways, but you and I have a pretty close bond. I’ve finally figured out that I can’t make you talk about something you don’t want to talk about–very much like your Dad Dad. When you are feeling BIG FEELINGS, the best thing I can do is just sit next to you. Sometimes you want me to hold you and hug you, but most of the time you just want me there. At your birthday party this weekend, you didn’t get your way about something and you flipped out. You went into Alice’s room to have a fit, and I came in and just sat on the floor while you whined and tantrumed. Eventually you got quiet and I asked you, “Do you want me to make you a plate of food?” And you wiped your eyes and said, “will you sit by me?” And that was that. I did sit by you, but only for a few minutes. Then you were comfortable with all the people in our house and you were great!

You are intensely loyal and loving. For such a small, quiet guy, you are fierce with your love. When you are happy, you are very happy. When you are tired, hungry, or hurt, you are very cranky. I’ve learned that you can become overwhelmed by too much of anything. You need quiet, alone time. You need someone to just be there. You need to know you can count on your family.

I try to make sure you know always that you are safe and loved.

You can break my heart and heal my heart like no one else, my Charlie. Your words are hilarious and wise beyond your five years. I never want to forget how you say that you’re “halmost” done or you’re “halready” done or that you love everything “becept” something. Or how you make your army guys “HATTACK!”

I love how you like random things like egg cartons and pretty stones. I love that you can line up army guys on your fire truck for over an hour and make up dialogues and scenarios with them. I love the way people think you’re not paying attention, but you are paying attention to every word said.

I love the way you jam out to Kidz Bop in the car and announce that every song is your 56th favorite song or your 4th favorite song or your 15th favorite song. I wouldn’t put it past you to actually have a mental list of all the songs you love.

I love your big feelings. All of them. I love that you say to me, “You are the best Mom Mom” and I know you mean it. Even on days when you are having lots of negative feelings, I know that at the end of the day, you want to cuddle up to me before bed because I play with your hair and do the voices in your favorite books.

I love that you know Eddie better than Eddie knows himself and that you pronounce his name, “Uddie”.  I love your love for your little sister and that you call her “Beans” like Daddy does.

I love your love of cuddly comfy clothes and cozy blankets and warm spots. I love that you love chocolate more than anything in the world.

But most of all, I just really love you. All of you: the easy parts and the difficult parts, the sunny parts and the cloudy parts. You are my best Bird.

I hope your 5th birthday is wonderful!

Love,
Mom Mom

Oh Twoodles!

Dear Alice,

Ten years ago I found myself unexpectedly pregnant. Daddy and I were very upset because we weren’t trying to get pregnant. I had another year of grad school before we even wanted to think about having kids. But there we were.

As you know already, we lost that pregnancy. But before the loss and after the acceptance that I was going to be a mom, I imagined a baby girl. This is significant because up until then I saw myself as having zero kids or only having boys, but I felt a very strong feeling that there was a girl growing in my belly. Not long after my 30th birthday we found out that the pregnancy had shut down. No baby.

It would be eight years–and four more pregnancies–before a baby girl would show up in our lives.

I was convinced after Eddie and Charlie were born, that I was a boy mom through and through. I was convinced when we found out we were pregnant with you, that you were a boy. I was sure.

I was wrong.

 

I’m so glad I was wrong.

I didn’t know, Alice. I just didn’t know how very VERY much we–I–needed you. You bring such joy and sunshine and happiness to our life–to our family!

So what are you like as a two-year old?

Over this past year you learned to walk, run, and dance. You love to twirl–especially in a skirt, dress, or tutu. And you love SHOES and accessories! You call all jewelry and hair things “pretties” and you love to load them on. This weekend I painted your toenails pink and you refused the footie jammies because you couldn’t admire your toes in those. If I brush my hair, you want to brush your hair. When I put on makeup, you want to pretend to put on lipstick or blush. When I put on bracelets or a necklace, you dash to your room for one of yours. I don’t consider myself the most girly girl, but the way you shadow my actions, I see myself differently in you.

You love to sing! Every night daddy or I sing while we rock you. You have three songs you rotate through with me: Row Row (Row, Row, Row Your Boat), Sunshine (You Are My Sunshine), and Rock A Baby (Rock’a’bye The Baby). You have started singing along with us–and I even noticed you singing Row Row the other day while you were twirling in the kitchen.

You love your blankie more than any other lovie, although you love to sleep with an army of “friends.” Usually you will pair Blankie with another friend–this week it’s a Popple, last week it was Puppy–when you leave your bed. And you love books…which you know makes my heart happy. I hope you always have a love for the written word.

Babies and tea sets are still your favorite toys and your Grandma and Granny love to spoil you with lots of babies and baby accessories. Charlie and Eddie also give in and play with you because you’re so cute that it’s quite persuasive. No one can pass up a purple tea cup being handed to them by an eager two year old! Your brothers love you to the moon. Charlie is always there to play with you, and Eddie helps you with your shoes and coat. I hope they are always your go-to for when you need someone to lean on.

You may be my shadow, but you are a Daddy’s Girl through and through. When daddy picks you up from day care you are quite possessive claiming him as “mine daddy” to all who will listen. Your face lights up when you hear him come home, and if he is gone (or just in the bathroom) you will wander around with your hands out asking, “where my daddy go?” And can I tell you a secret, Alice? He adores you too. He melts when you run to him for a hug. He lives for your voice saying, “mine daddy!” I am quite sure he had no idea how much he needed a little girl either until you showed up and took our hearts captive.

Alice, your smile and giggle make everyone happy. Even though you start shy and are slow to warm up to people, your sheer joy brings light to all those around you. Your brothers were good cuddlers, but you are my hugger. You will declare “HUG! KEESES! (kisses)” before bed or before I leave for work and you will throw your whole self into squeezing my neck. You get that from your Daddy’s side of the family, you know. Sluiters and Potters are mega-huggers.

I was afraid that making it official that you were the last would somehow leave me with a feeling of sadness…a feeling of wishing for something more…a not “fullness.” But I never once felt incomplete.

In fact, now that you are here, I have never felt more intact. You complete this family in a way I just couldn’t imagine. I see your brothers differently now through the lens of a complete family–your existence makes me appreciate Eddie’s helpful nature and Charlie’s protective personality more than ever before because now I can see our whole family. There are no pieces missing.

You are our caboose–our Little Sister.

Time has never flown by so fast as it has since we have brought you three kids into this world. As you ripped open your gifts and blew out your candles all on your own tonight, I was reminded that you are not a baby anymore. You are a toddler who is absorbing everything and learning to be you.

Being a mother has been the greatest responsibility that I have ever taken on. The past two years have felt even more powerful because to raise a daughter is such an undertaking. There are a million ways to fail, but I think we can get it right, Alice.

So far, so good, my sweet love.

Love,
Mommy

Magnificently Seven

Dear Eddie,

Lately I have been looking at you in amazement. At some point in this school year you grew so tall, your feet so big, and your intellect so expansive.

2016-06-22 11.20.50

I’m having a hard time with your letter this year. It’s not that I don’t know what I want to say, it’s just…I’m a little overwhelmed. Since school has been out, I have been noticing that you are on the verge of not being such a naive little kiddo anymore.

Have I mentioned that you have gotten SO tall? You are 4’3′ and you wear a size 2.5 shoe. That seems like such a big kid. Your baby face has thinned out, although you still have those totally kissable cheeks. Judging from the Koops lineage where they come from, I don’t have to worry about your cheeks going away any time soon, and that makes me glad. You have a smattering of freckles on your nose which you claim to hate, but I love.

Daddy pointed out that your size 6 jammy shirts look like belly shirts on you, so I ordered size 7/8 the other day. Youth size “medium”.

This year brought a ton of “not a little kid anymore” things.

You finished the first grade! The school year started out a bit rough; you had a hard time adjusting to two recesses instead of three, no rest time during the day, and no free choice play. We exchanged quite a few emails and phone calls with your teacher about how to best help you learn about self-control. Aunt MacKenzie–who teaches first grade in another school–assured us over and over that your behavior was completely normal for a young first grade boy. She also promised we would see a change after Christmas break and she was right! It was like a switch flipped and you figured out how to “do” school.

We never worried about your academics, though. In Kindergarten you were one of the top readers, and Mrs. D placed you in the “advanced readers” group for WIN (What I Need) time. You fell in love with researching and reading nonfiction–especially about weather and animals. You also excel at math. Your swiftness with flying through your math problems and adding and subtracting in your head make me so proud…and glad. Math was so very hard for me–it still is–so to see it come easy to you is a relief to me.

One of the things I am most proud of is that you are sch a good, helpful friend at school. It’s true that often you have to “clip down” on the behavior chart for acting silly and being off-task, but it’s because you are trying to make people smile. You let other kids answer so they will “clip up” even when you know the answer. You play with everyone whether they are “popular” or not, and you told me once that you and your friend, L, were in a “squad” to help a girl in your class stay safe from some mean upper-el kids.

You did a lot of stuff out of school this year too.

You played soccer in the fall, but declared that was it. You weren’t into it and didn’t want to continue, but you did ask to be in cub scouts so we signed you up as a Tiger scout.

2016-02-16 18.45.32

You learned so much this year as a scout! Your favorite things were marching in parades and making your pinewood derby car with grandpa. You took first place in the Tiger scout division! So awesome! Last week you crossed over to a Wolf scout and are looking forward to another fun year with your den and your pack.

You participated in coach-pitch baseball and basketball camp this spring as well as another session of swimming lessons. You grew SO much as a baseball player this year! Your coach was fantastic. You were awesome. It was a really fun season to watch.

2016-06-08 19.09.04

Over and over this year I have just found myself so darn proud of you. I mean, it’s not been without some struggle. Like I said we had MANY talks about self-control and behavior at the beginning of the school year, but you really did try.

I love our conversations. You ask just about anything, and you think very deeply about things. You have never been a “why why why” kid, but more of a “What is Heaven? How do tornadoes start? Where does wind come from?” kid. I love your inquisitive nature and how you really think about things before and after you ask about them.

You are such a good big brother. Charlie has entered a phase where he wants to be just like you and do everything you do and it’s super annoying to you, but when you guys get playing something, you play so well together. You fight and wrestle and yell and play hard. Your personalities are vastly different, yet you have one thing in common: you laugh uncontrollably at anything that has to do with butts, farts, or poop. Even though you guys are a ball of trouble together, you are both always thinking of the other when you are not together. Recently I brought Charlie to get a treat after he had shots and he wanted to also choose something for you. When you got to pick a Gatorade at the grocery store with me, you also wanted to choose one for Charlie. It is my most sincere prayer that you boys always keep each other in mind. You are each other’s best friend and ally in this world. Never forget that. Brothers are for life.

2016-06-09 19.20.19

Where you have frustration for Charlie, you have unending patience for Alice. I don’t know if it’s the age difference or the fact that you have always always ALWAYS wanted a little sister, but you would do absolutely anything for her. You taught her to hug! You comfort her when she is sad. You bring her all her lovies and you play so nicely with her, letting her choose what to play. Please always be there for her. She will need a shoulder to cry on and a strong brother to lean on throughout her life. You are so quick to put your arm around her; I hope that is always the case.

2016-06-13 18.33.17-1

You still love your stuffed animals and you still sleep with Lamby and your tiny monkey pillow, yet you enjoy Star Wars and American Ninja Warrior. You are the perfect mix of sweet and growing up. You are so empathetic and loving, yet capable of thinking about big things.

This morning you said you were a little sad because six was such a great year. You were sad on the last day of school because you said first grade was so awesome and you would miss Mrs. D. That’s the kind of guy you are, bud. I hope seven (and 2nd grade) surpass your best imagination of what it could be.

Happy birthday, my buddy. I love you more than everything.

Mom

Upon Your Sixth Birthday

Dear Eddie,

You are six now.

I am actually a little speechless.

(but wait for it. you know I will find some words. I always do.)

Your birthday is so amazing and miraculous and all the things woven and tangled together. Your birth broke me down so I could be rebuilt into a mother. You did that, son.

Eddie3

You are our number one, but you were actually number three. You are actually my middle “baby”. Two older, and two younger.

But you are our number one here. In our family.

I often tell each of you that you were chosen for our family by Jesus for a very specific reason. We don’t always know all the reasons, but we can see hints of some of them as our lives unfold.

You were the baby that “stuck.” As I watch you learn and grow I see that is no mistake. I don’t know how souls work. I don’t know if those lumps of cells that came before you had souls yet or not. I don’t know if those two pregnancies were both your soul trying to come to our family and it just took you three tries.  I don’t know if there are two souls in heaven that will just never make it to an earthly family. I like to think that they are in heaven so your Papa can have some grandkids, but the truth is I don’t know. And I’m not sure I’ll ever know or that I am meant to know.

What I do know is that you are a miracle. Your being here is a wonder to behold.

2015-06-12 14.35.47

You love to hear your birth story and I love to tell you. This year you loved that I added all the people who were waiting in our hospital room to meet you when we came out of the operating room. From that minute you have loved being the center of attention. You love an audience.

Eddie, I have been honored to watch you learn and grow over the past six years. You completed Kindergarten this year and now you are a full-fledged kid.

Right now you love Pokemon after finding it on Netflix only a few weeks ago. You talk nonstop about the battles and the evolving or whatever. I must say I am not that interested, but I absolutely love it that you are so passionate about it. You are giving me a glimpse as to how you will handle passions in the future: you learn everything there is to know, and you talk about it to everyone.

You love to do “crafts” which involve you envisioning something with boxes and paper and markers and scissors and glue and then making it happen.

You love to write and read.

You played soccer, T-ball, and took swimming lessons this year, and while you complained about going, once there you loved being involved.

Your teachers have always described you as a leader. I admit to not fully understanding this. I have always been nervous that maybe you would get picked on because you cry easily, but last week I finally saw what your teachers meant.

20150619_121807

On Friday I packed up you and your brother and sister and we headed to the park for a while to burn off some energy before lunch. Within five minutes of getting there, you had organized a game of tag with the four or so other kids who were there.

More kids showed up and you included each one.

When the game of tag broke up, you went over to the merry-go-round. You pushed and invited kids on and let them off if they asked. You made sure everyone was careful and that you went a little slower if little kids wanted on. You were respectful and chatty with the mom of the toddler who wanted to get on, and you even walked the merry-go-round very slowly to give that toddler a little ride.

Kids were calling you by name by the time we were ready to pack up.

“Eddie? Do those kids go to your school?”

“No.”

“Do you know them from T-ball or something?”

“No.”

“Then how do they know your name?”

“They asked. They said their names too, but I don’t remember. That’s a lot of names.”

2015-06-08 11.59.35

It was no big deal to you that all of these kids were suddenly your friends. It was totally casual. You walked onto that playground with all the confidence in the world that you were going to have fun with some kids. And you did.

In that moment, I looked at you differently.

I saw your confident stride–those legs that just keep getting longer–as you walked with your head held high, looking around for potential friends.

I saw your easy smile and helping hands.

I saw your caring nature.

I saw you, Eddie.

When you weren’t looking, I was.

You make me so proud to be your mom.

Happy 6th birthday, Eddie Bear.

Love, Mom

The Magic of Three

Dear Charlie,

Today you are THREE!

2015-01-01 13.26.11

I know things have been a little crazy and your birthday has been sort of part of a whole whirlwind of “events” around these parts, but I wanted to make sure you know how special your day is to me. We maybe be focusing a lot on Alice right now and on mommy resting and getting better, but you have been on my heart a lot.

In fact, while recovering in the hospital, my thoughts turned to you often.

I thought of our hospital stay three years ago. Your soft little head that fit so perfectly in the neck space under my chin. Our late evening chats after daddy had gone home to Eddie. The way you were immediately my little Charlie Bird.

You are now “The Middle Child,” but you are still my littlest boy. And your role in this family is very important. Not only did you make Eddie a brother, but you made daddy and I parents of kids, plural.  You taught us that our hearts don’t just make room for more love, but they actually GROW with love.

face charlie

As a baby, you were our quiet, serious observant boy. You especially watched Eddie’s crazy shenanigans closely and skeptically.  Eventually, he would be the first to make you do the belly laugh you are now famous for.  You gave Eddie the brother he didn’t know he needed and you even out his bossy, follow-the-rules, cautious personality with a dose of risk, stubbornness, and goof.

You taught us that all babies, toddlers, kids are different–that just because you have had one, does not mean you know what you’re doing with all kids. For instance, Eddie didn’t say strings of words until he was almost three, but you have been talking for a good year now. There have been times when I had to remind myself you were only two because you would say such complete sentences.

2012-10-10 16.50.01

While Alice and I were in the hospital this past weekend, you crawled up on my bed and proceeded to hold up cards and papers you found and tell me about traffic lights and how red means stop and then green is go. Not everything made a ton of sense, but you just lectured on it for about ten minutes–telling me I was in my class. You are so very animated with your big blue eyes and your hand gestures and your facial expressions. YOU know what you’re talking about, and that is what matters.

All of your emotions are big, Charlie. I remember that about Eddie being three, but you’ve had the Big Feelings for a long time now. When you are mad, LOOK OUT. Your immediate reaction is to pick something up and throw it or knock it over. You want to spit and hit and scream NOOOOO!!!! It’s very exhausting.

2013-03-16 12.05.44

But your joy and love are big too, and I’m always trying to remember during your times of anger bombs, that you are also a very happy boy. You are quick to say “thank you!” and “I love you!” without being prompted. You like to sit CLOSE to me or daddy (mostly daddy). You even like to snuggle up to Eddie, who doesn’t always tolerate your cuddles like Dad Dad and I do.

Touch is definitely your love language. Whether you are smooshing your sleepy body next to daddy on the couch before bed, or flopping yourself on Eddie to wrestle, you love to touch and be touched. It’s how you show that you like someone.

048

You are no longer the baby in the family, Charlie. But you don’t seem to care as much as I thought you would. You love your sister and want to share with her and kiss her and hug her. You love to hold her. The look on your face when you hold Alice is a new one to me. I’ve not seen that pride in your face before.

You surprise us and make us laugh every single day. Yes, you are probably also the child who is turning my hair gray so rapidly, but you also make me laugh the hardest.  From the time you put your hand on your hip and said, “I not argue with you, Mom Mom,” to just earlier this week when you were dancing around, planted your booty on Eddie and said, “here’s my butt, my big butt,” and then laughed your head off, you keep us guessing what you’ll do and say next.

IMG_9603

Three years ago, you came into this world and helped me heal from a lot of bad stuff I had gone through after Eddie was born. You taught me that having a baby didn’t have to suck. You softly slept on my chest assuring me it didn’t have to be so hard.

You continue to heal me, son. You are important to this family. You make daddy laugh until he cries, you challenge Eddie and give him a built-in buddy, you give your little sister love, and you are the patches and stitches that healed my broken heart.

2015-02-22 12.35.01

I am so proud to be your mom.

I know Three can be a tough age, but it is also a magical age. You will do a lot of growing up this year, Bird. With that will come growing pains for both of us. You will go from toddler to kid this year. You will probably (hopefully) potty train and give up your pacifier. The last of “baby” will fade away.

I will cry. You will fight it. But we will make it.

There will be loads of joy and celebration in it too, my son.

Here is to Three. Let the magic begin.

Love,

Mom Mom

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...