Super Four

PicMonkey Collage

Dear Eddie,

You turned FOUR on Sunday.

I am still trying to wrap my mind around how you can already be four.  Four years old.  Every time I thought about it this weekend, my mind went racing back to the operating room where we first met.  Me all splayed out on a table, strapped down as if in my exhaustion I cared enough to flail about, and you all chubby and slimy and mad and cold.  Good times, Ed.  Good times.

Your birthday this year has been especially exciting.  It’s the first year you understand upcoming events and could count down and look forward to your big day.  Ever since daddy had his birthday in December, you have been asking if you were next.  You had to wait through Charlie’s party, my birthday, Kingston & Kyrie’s party, Joe’s party, Trisha’s day, Addie & Lexi’s party, Aunt Sarah’s day, and finally…FINALLY…you were next.

We talked a lot about what you wanted for your birthday: a new bike, superhero stuff, Legos, the baby doll at Target that actually drinks her bottle, that pancake making pan that you saw on an infomercial.  Every time you saw something you loved you announced, “mom! put that on my birthday list!”f

We asked you what kind of party you wanted for your birthday and you said, “um, maybe a pool party with my little pool and my cousin Jack and my friends.”  So we planned it.  We sent out invitations.  We bought a new inflatable pool that could accommodate more kids. We bought a slip n slide. We bought a “baby” pool.  You wanted “hot dog on a bun” for the party, so we went to Gordon’s and bought a case of dogs and a ton of buns and fixin’s.  You helped me pick two HUGE watermelons.

Your birthday party was on Saturday.  The day before your birthday.

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On Friday, we had some unexpected guest cancellations.

I often wonder what your first memory will be, Eddie.  Most people have their first memories around your age.  I really hope you don’t remember the Friday before your party. I was disappointed to the point of heaving tears.  I spent almost 30 minutes on the phone with Grandma while you and Charlie played.

But I know you heard me.  I saw you climb to the top of your clubhouse and stare at the field behind the house.  You don’t miss much, Eddie.  After I got off the phone, you came and sat next to me and said, “I don’t have any friends, Mom?  Is that what you told Grandma?”  The tears got hot in my eyes all over again.

“No, buddy. That is not it at all!  You have SO many friends who love you LOTS!  It’s just that some can’t come to your party anymore.  Big stuff came up and they have to take care of their big stuff.  But they are so sad they can’t come.”

“But Jack is coming?”

“No, buddy. Uncle Chris just let me know that they are going camping.  No Jack.”

He looked down at the ground.  ”It’s Ok, mom. We will have fun. It’s my party!”

The next day it was indeed your party.  Our neighborhood friends, Kelsey, Bentley, and Harry came at the last minute and you and Bentley had an absolute ball splashing and chasing each other.  Uncle Mike and Uncle Cody both brought their swimsuits in case you needed some fun…but they didn’t even have to bust them out.  You have have an awesome family who loves you so much.  Aunt Kenzie even showed up though she had originally thought she would miss it.

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Unprompted you thanked everyone for coming to your party, and you thanked daddy and me about a hundred times for your party and for hot dogs.  You made us so proud, Eddie.  So proud.

On your birthday you woke daddy up with your new Batman Mask on.  It was hilarious.  Then we had cinnamon rolls followed by a treasure hunt to your gift from us.

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When you saw it, instead of jumping on, you rushed over to me and threw your arms around my waist. “OH THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!  FOR MY BIG BIKE!”

Then you did that excited little dance you do where your arms get flappy, and you jumped on in your jammies. Daddy took video, but since we are all in our jammies, we will keep that gem off the blog.

That afternoon, Daddy “swam” with you in the pool and showed you how to use the slip n slide.  After your brother’s nap we went to Red Robin (yummmmm!) because that is your favorite and immediate choice when we ask where you want to go.

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You got the corndog (because three hot dogs on a bun over the course of two days was not enough hot dog for you, I guess) and polished it off claiming LOTS of room for ice cream.  Last year you shared your ice cream.  Not this year.

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When we got home, you announced you were STARVING for some birthday cake…and what do you know, I happened to make you the lemon cake you requested!

We lit the candles, sang happy birthday to our four-year old, and you blew them out.

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Later that night, I put you to bed.  It was my night, but if it hadn’t been, I would have asked daddy if I could do it.  I need the snuggle and talk time with you.

We used daddy’s tablet to read Oh The Places You’ll Go and Happy Birthday To You both by Dr. Seuss.  You were almost asleep by the end of the second book, so when we turned it off and you rolled over, I quietly whispered, “Happy Birthday, Eddie.”

Barely audible, you whispered back, “thanks, mommy.”

“I love you,” I added.

“I love you better than the wide world,” you managed.

“Oh. I love YOU better than the wide world too.”

And then you fell into the steady breathing of a boy who had loads of excitement and sugar.  Of a little boy who just turned four and feels so big.

I lay there even though I knew I could get up. I replayed your birth day in my head.  I let the tears wet the pillow under my face.  I apologized to you again for being so sick your first year of life.

And I thanked you for being the little buddy I never knew I needed.  For being so smart and funny and silly and witty.  For being strong-willed and bossy and whiney and emotional.  For being so much like me.

I don’t know if you will remember any of these events, but my heart will remember them always.  And my prayer is that even though the actual events may fade from your mind, they feeling of being so loved by so many will always be there with you.

Because so many people love you, but I?  I love you most of all.

More than the wide world.

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Love,

Mommy

The Big Ten

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Dear Charlie,

So here we are…double digits.  Ten months.

What is it about going from nine to ten months that has me all emotional this month?

Maybe because nine months still sounds so baby.  You were still stuck to one spot when you were nine months old, for one thing. It still seemed more baby and not so…you know…”almost one years old”.

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You are VERY much mobile now. VERY VERY VERY VERY much.

We put up the Christmas tree around your nine-month mark.  You started to army crawl.

By Christmas you were full on hands and knees crawling.

And pulling up.

Today you showed off your new-found cruising skills as you scaled the couch to get to your brothers toes.  I may have tackled you and told you to quit growing up so fast.  Right after I scolded your brother for having feet the size of jelly pans.

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You are such a happy little guy.  You take everything in stride. Everything.  This month decided to bring you your bottom molars. MOLARS! Before 10 months!  Even the Nurse Practitioner who checked you out for your well child appointment was stunned. The first one rumbled in and gave you such bad diaper rash that your little booty looked like I had set you on a tanning bed.  For three hours.

Every time you would poop (which was about 100 times a day during that stretch), you would immediately cry and start to crawl away from me because you knew I needed to change you and that it would hurt. I had to use warm wet washcloths because the wipes would sting your booty cakes.  When they started to bleed and we were both sobbing with every diaper change, I called the nurse.

They prescribed something called Magic Butt Cream.

And it was. Magic, that is.  It cleared you right up.

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But it left you so very sleepy.  It has been a LONG time since you would rather have me hold you and rock than to just be laid down at nap time. During Christmas break when all this was happening, I wrapped you in your ducky blanket and rocked and sang to you…and you were soothed by it.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t love that.  Because Charlie, it was a gift to me.  It was how we used to spend our long days together those first three months.  I had forgotten how much I love to have you sleep on me:  your slow breathing and baby smell.

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Your brother did his part to help out with you while we were all home together for those two weeks too. He loves to bring you things and roll balls to you and help you reach.  He “reads” books to you and is the first in your room when you wake up.

Speaking of your brother…your love for Eddie grows every day in ways I had no idea was possible.

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I never had a sister.  I don’t know what it’s like to grow up with a same-sex sibling, but I can tell you something for sure: it’s different than growing up with an opposite-sex sibling.

I love your uncles deeply and we have a very special bond, but even after decades, it is not like the one you have with Eddie after just ten months.

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He looks out for you. I want you to know that. If you had a sad day at Renae’s house? He will tell me about it.  If someone took a toy from you or pushed you over…even if it was an accident…he will spill it to me.

If he thinks you are hurt or in trouble he runs (never walks) to find me or daddy.

From time to time you bother your brother. Ok, you do it a lot.  But not on purpose.  You want to be wherever he is.  When you wake up crying, his entering your room turns your face into a tear-stained smile.

You are his biggest fan and he is your best cheerleader.

You clap for his every move, and he is always near encouraging you, “Come on, Birdie. You can do it. Come on Cha-yee.”

Don’t ever let that go away.

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You have decided that baby snacks are…well..for babies.  Not you, so we have given up on puffs and other “made for baby” type snacks and have taken to chopping fresh fruit, steaming veggies, and dicing turkey and ham.

And you love it.  Just like your brother did.

I’m not sure how, but your dad and I win at raising eaters.  I’ll take it!

You are our solid little man weighing in at 22.1 pounds and measuring 30 inches. The 85th and 97th percentiles respectively.

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You are so curious.  Now that you can go wherever you please, you are almost entirely uninterested in toys and totally into what every other things in the house is and does.

The slider attracts you like a moth to a flame.  You want to play with the blinds; you want to watch the birds; you want to kiss your reflection.

You crawl to all the cords and plugs that we don’t have hidden quite well enough.

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And you act so darn innocent about it all. And shoot that super smile.  And bat those big eyes.

And get swooped up into a big hug and smootch from me because I just can’t help myself.  I love you so much.  All your dimples and squishiness and drool and tongue raspberries.  I love it all.

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I often find myself staring at you in wonder.

How did I get so lucky?  Is this how it is for most moms? Is this what it’s like to feel “normal”?

And how in the world did you get to be ten months old already?

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It’s all a blur to me…but this time around? In a good way. A wonderful, laughter-filled, heart-breakingly good way.

I love you, Charles T.

You make my heart parts sing with happiness.

Love,
Muh Muh Muh.

summer ending: a letter

Dear Eddie and Charlie,

Over the past 5+ months we have developed a routine for our days.

In the beginning, it was just me and Charlie.  We spent our days napping between feedings and diaper changes.  But as he grew and Eddie started staying home most days, our days grew more full as well.

Charlie, you are still usually the first one awake, calling for me with your little yells through the monitor around 7am.  You greet me with a smile each and ever day, like you are SO happy that I came to get you up.  No matter how tired I am, I melt a little at that wide smile.  And once you know I am there for you, your tears immediately turn to coos as you play with your feet, my hair, anything you can reach while I change your diaper.

We migrate to my chair with a warm bottle in hand and watch the first hour (the only one really worth watching, in my opinion) of The Today Show.  Many times you are dozing off an hour after you originally woke up.

Eddie, that is when you usually make your appearance for the day.

Each day that you don’t have daycare you come slowly creeping up the stairs and peek your face around the corner and say, “hi mommy!”  I love it.  And I love that Charlie is usually back in bed so that I can scoop you up in the chair to me and get a big, sleepy hug.

We spend the next couple hours watching TV, playing cars, and eating breakfast.

By that time Charlie is usually up again wanting to eat.  This is when one of two things happens.  We either get dressed and head out for an adventure, or you head downstairs to play by yourself while Charlie helps me do a lot of nothing with whatever the day’s chores are.

Lunch is usually around noon and all three of us love to listen to some tunes while Eddie eats.  A dance party has been known to break out and Charlie has been known to screech-laugh.

Eddie, you like to watch Calliou.  I am just going to tell you. I hate that damn show.  Calliou is a whiny, weird child.  But you love it and it winds you down for nap, so I let it fly.

Charlie, you wind down during this time too.  Sometimes you pass out before daddy comes home for lunch, sometimes you wait until he leaves to go back, but there is usually about 30 minutes or so of nap overlap.

You would think I would use this time wisely.  That after almost 6 months, I would try to squeeze every second out of this time.  But the truth is? I usually waste it online.  Not even accomplishing anything like meeting a deadline or doing any promo.  Nope, I just dork around.  Oh and I usually try to eat something. Maybe shower…but that is pushing it.

Eddie, you usually get up between 3:30 and 4:00 to me and Charlie just hanging out watching TV.  I have been big into Friends re-runs this summer.  I have no idea why, well, other than the show is awesome.

Once Ed is up, we usually change it to Tivo-ed Loony Tunes until daddy gets home around 4:45.  Then he takes over while I get dinner ready.

It’s a nice routine.

It’s comfy.  We are all used to it and the number of meltdowns have great decreased because Eddie, you know what is coming.  And Charlie just does what he does.

But guys?  This week all that we have known this summer comes to an end.

Thursday you will both start going to Renae’s house full-time.

Eddie, you love it at Renae’s. The biggest struggle for you will be adjusting your sleep schedule.  You REALLY hate to be woken up, and prefer to do a slow wake up on your own.  And you’ve been going to bed around 9pm this summer, so that will have to change.  I expect some crabby evenings/mornings for a week or so while we get on this new schedule, but then you will thrive because you love to play with your friends.

Charlie, you are always so good when you go to Renae’s from time to time.  And I know you will do great.

I, on the other hand, am already starting to cry about it.

Each time you lay your head on me because you are getting tired, I tear up thinking of you doing that to someone else.  Each time you giggle at how crazy your brother is, I catch myself getting jealous that Renae will get that every day and I will not.  Every time you smile at me when you wake up from a snooze, my heart counts down one more thing I will miss each day.

You are on the verge of sitting up.  I want that to happen with me.  I don’t want to miss milestones.

I don’t think I missed any with Eddie, but Amy Jo was very good about not telling me if I did.

You boys need to know I love my job.  I love it.

Working with other kids is what I was born to do.

Plus I am just a better version of me when I have a purpose other than our home and family.

But I love you two MORE.

And this summer has been so good.

It is the first summer since becoming a mom that I realized that I can do this.  I can DO this mom thing AND do it well.

We had fun!  We did adventures: zoos, parks, beaches, play dates, library trips, errands, and endless cake pop/coffee runs.  We had dance parties and made parking lots with cars.  We put all the toys in the bounce seat with Charlie.  We played with legos and trains.  We swam and ran through sprinklers.  We ate outside and went on walks.

I very rarely said no to invites to do things because, well, I wanted to make up for the last two summers of doing nothing because of my anxiety.

But now I have to go back to work. I have to.  Both because we need the income/insurance coverage and because to be the best version of me I need to think about more than diapers and toddler lunches.

I am a little excited, and a lot sad.  I have no desire to be a stay at home mom, but I do miss you both fiercely when I am away.

This mom thing is way harder than I ever expected it to be…

…but also way better.

So pardon me if I cry over you a bit the next week. And kiss and hug you after everything you do.

I am just trying to soak up every little bit about each of you.

So I can take it with me to get me through the days until I see you again.

Just promise to act excited to see me when I come to pick you up from Renae’s, Ok?  For me?

I love you,

Mommy

Yes, this was our life the summer of 2012.

the day before

Dear Sluiter Boys,

This is it.  The day before our world changes.

I have been trying to soak everything in about all three of you this weekend.  I found a lump in my throat and hot tears in my eyes on more than one occasion.  Not because I was sad, but because I just couldn’t wrap my head or heart around how unbelievably blessed I am.

Eddie you amaze me.

You are a talking machine.  People always say this to me, and I know your voice is a constant in our lives, but this weekend I made sure to really, REALLY listen to you.

You have so many stories, and you are such a great little reporter on what is happening around you.  Everything is interesting and exciting and note-worthy.

My favorite thing this weekend was when we were goofing around and you just fell on me, squeezed, and said, “Mom?  I love you.”

I can’t imagine that I had a life without you in it.

How have you only been here for 32 months?

You are so smart and so big and so strong.

You are going to be an amazing big brother…starting tomorrow.  But really, you have already started.  You are so kind to your unborn brother.

And even though you have mentioned a couple times that you don’t want baby Charlie anymore, I know you are just scared and nervous.

I’ll tell you what, I am too.

Things are going to be different.  And it will be hard for you and me and daddy.  But you and me?  We are a lot alike.  Change is scary and makes us anxious and we cry and lash out.

But Eddie?  We will get through it.  I promise.

Charlie, I can’t believe you are only going to be part of me for less than 24 more hours.

This has been a crazy 39 weeks.

All the puking and reflux and restrictions and everything that was thrown at me this pregnancy is all about to seem like nothing when you are placed in my arms for the first time.

I’m not generally a fan of sharing, but sharing my body with you has been an honor.

While I am ready to have it back–let’s be honest, neither of us are comfy anymore–I will miss your movements that only I know about.  I will miss that connection I feel to you without having to speak.

I’m ready to meet you face to face.  To learn your personality and your face.  To fall in love all over again.

Cortney, I cannot tell you how much you make my heart flip.

Watching you laugh and play with Eddie one minute, and pat your unborn son in my belly the next had me fighting back my sappy mommy tears.

Each time you gave me the hairy eyeball for using the stairs or lifting something, something in me smiled.

Your protectiveness over your family is so attractive and cute.

You’ve put in so much for our team lately.  I know you are tired.  I know you need a break.

I wish I could say that tomorrow means a break for you.  But it doesn’t.

We both know this is the break right now.  Even though it so doesn’t feel like it.

Tomorrow you will be a single parent to a confused little toddler for three days.

Then you will have a wife with a giant abdominal would who will need help on top of that confused toddler.

Oh, and there will be a baby.  Who cries.  And poops.  And needs to eat.  And hasn’t figured out a sleep schedule yet.

Every time I think of how much you give, I want to cry and tell you I am sorry.

But you shake it off.  You tell me we are all worth it.

You tell me you love us.

And you smile.

And your smile gets me every time.

Because your smile is my safe place.  It is home.

So my boys…things are about to change for all of us.

I am soaking you all in how you are right now in this moment because tomorrow will be different.

A wonderful, chaotic, painful, beautiful different.

I love you all more than you will ever imagine,

Mommy (Kate)

 

i won’t be like her

Dear Eddie and Charlie,

When I was little I had a friend whose house I went to quite a few times.  I remember I loved spending the night at her house because she had a cool older sister and brother and she had all the Gem dolls.  Her parents let us watch PG movies which was AWESOME (except that time we watched Jaws.  I may have called your Grandpa in the night claiming to be sick so that  he would come pick me up because really I was too scared to stay).

And maybe the movie Splash gave me bad dreams too.  That mermaid tail was way too creepy for my 8 year old mind.

Whatever.  I felt cool for watching those movies.

Anyway, her dad was really nice.  He was always the one to pick me up or bring me home.  He brought us places like her older brother’s wrestling matches.  And he was funny.

But her mom?  I didn’t see much of her.

No matter what time I got there, her mom was in her room with the lights dimmed and a humidifier on.

We were not allowed to play in the kitchen area near her parents’ room.

We were not allowed to go in the bedroom and ask questions.

If we needed anything, we went through my friend’s dad.  He even made all our meals.

In fact, I can’t even tell you what her mom looked like.

It always made me feel a little scared.

I didn’t know if her mom was sick or what.  I remember someone at sometime talking about her not being sick, but alluding to the fact that she was not well in the head.

No one ever talked about it…but after all these years I know that my friend’s mom was depressed (at the least).

Boys, your mom suffers with depression too.

I know what it’s like to not be able to deal with anyone.

To want to lock myself in a room and sleep my life away.

I understand feeling like the world is too much.

I have been told I am loved and prayed for and felt none of it.

I have been completely numb and hollow.

But I didn’t stay in a locked room.

I didn’t turn out the light and turn off my life.

I don’t know what happened to my friend’s mom.  I hope she got help.

I did.

Today, as I write this, I do not feel the cold grip of depression.

But I know from experience that it still hangs around.  Waiting for a vulnerability when it can reach in and grasp me by the heart.

Waiting.

But I know this evil.

I have stared it down and won…many times.

And I will always win.

Do you know why?

Because I never want you to be afraid to play around me.

I never EVER want you to feel like you have tip toe around me in order to be a kid.  to have fun. to enjoy your life.

I want you to have a momma who sings and dances and bakes and makes memories with you.

I want to have family nights with you guys and your dad.  game nights and movie nights.

I want jokes only our family gets and chatty family dinners and silliness.

I want to be part of your lives.

Because you are my whole life.

But depression will be there from time to time.

But it won’t be a secret.

We will talk about what momma is feeling and we will fight it together.

Because the more we fight?  The smaller this depression feels and looser it’s hold on me is.

And when it passes?

We will celebrate.

Every time.

Until depression goes away for good.

Because it has to.

It’s not welcome to our family game nights.

I love you both,
Momma

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