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.


Mom Mom

two two

Dear Charlie,

You are twenty-two months today; two months from turning two.

It’s hit me sort of funny in a way I wasn’t expecting.  We were going along with life, being busy with the holidays and New Year and then suddenly…it was only two months until your birthday.  Two months to two years.

Charlie 22 months

You have changed and grown so much.

I search for that sleepy baby with the hair like feathers that once curled up under my chin in a swaddle to nap. I don’t know where he went.

I search for that quiet, stoic baby who took everything in and refused to smile on demand for anyone. I don’t know where he went either.

You spent your whole first year somehow connected to me. Ok, at least your first six months. The next six months I had to go back to work, but when I was with you, you were on my hip or in a carrier or on my lap.  If we went anywhere, you clung to me.

You’ve always loved your daddy (Dad-do, as you call him), but in the past few months you’ve acquired quite an affinity for doing whatever he is doing. As soon as you hear the garage door open you pop your head up and say, “OH! DAD-DO!” Then when you hear the door open you jump off my lap or spring from the floor and haul buns to the gate at the top of the stairs yelling, “DAD-DO! HI!” You want him to hold you, read to you, tickle you.

I love watching that.

Charlie 22 months

You’ve starting clearly saying Eddie’s name to: AH-DEE.

When you see his picture you say his name. When he walks in the room, you point and announce him. He is very independent, but you are more cautious about new places. When Eddie sees that you are are upset in a new place (like nursery at church), he so kindly calls you over to play so your dad and I can slip out. He takes care of you and wants to make sure you are Ok.

Because he has started playing with you, you have become slightly obsessed with being able to do every single thing AH-DEE does. If he gets juice, you want juice. If he gets a twizzler, you need one too.  If he is coloring, you climb up on a kitchen chair to do it too.  Usually Eddie is very patient with you, but sometimes–like when you try to actually sit ON him by the kitchen table–he loses his cool and calls me in for reinforcements.

Those are the times you get mad, Bird.

Charlie 22 months

Recently we were up north with the majority of the Sluiter Family and everyone commented on how you were SO GOOD. How you NEVER fussed.  Your dad and I just laughed because you totally “fuss”. In fact, you throw balls to the wall tantrums.

When we have to tell you “no”, that is unacceptable to you. You scream. You cry. Your legs stop working and you refuse to be anything but toddler dead weight on the floor.

If we try to pick you up, you arch backward or hit or scratch or pull hair.

You are a bit more of a beast than a Bird as of late.

But only when you don’t get your way.  The rest of the time you are happy and chipper and so SO funny.

Charlie 22 months

You are quite the chatterbox, but only when you are comfortable with your surroundings. At home you talk non-stop. My favorite thing is after we put you down to nap or to bed for the night because you will chatter on in there with your stuffies for up to thirty minutes! I can hear you doing the “woof woof” sound for your puppy and “meow” sound for your kitty and tons of other “talking” sounds. Eventually you talk yourself out and fall asleep.

Your vocabulary expands by the day. Just today you asked me to read you the “Elmo” book. You said “Ah-MOE, MAMA”, so we read it. You pointed out Abbie and looked at me while I said it. Then you went through the book again and you kept pointing her out for me to say. Finally at the end, you pointed out “AH-MOE” and then you pointed and said, “AH-BAY BEE”.

Then you pursed your lips in that little smirk that tells me you are pretty darn proud of yourself.

Your hand-eye coordination/fine motor skills are almost ridiculous for a kid your age. Today daddy watched as you put each shape into your shape-sorter correctly with no help. You don’t jam and cram, you carefully twist each piece in the hole you know it goes in. You do this with puzzle pieces and Duplos too.   I watched you pick up a crayon the other day at the doctor’s office to color while we waited for our turn. You picked it up and held it correctly. I just watched.

Charlie 22 months

Books are your newest and favorite thing. I think we have read Hippos Go Berzerk over a thousand times…just today. I love this new love of yours, but seriously, let’s expand to some other stories. We have a whole PILE of board books.

I do that a lot with you, Charlie. I just watch you play. I watch you go about what seems to be your “work”. You can be so serious about it all, but you love to play. You love to explore. You love to figure out how things work.

Your favorite things are Duplos, BIG trucks, stuffies and blankies, and anything Eddie is doing. You love to run and laugh, and one of my favorite things is your deep, belly laugh. I also love how much you love to run around the house without a stitch of clothing on. I can tell you feel free and I know I have to throw a diaper on you because you WILL pee on the carpet, but you just love to RUN! Your blond curls fly behind you as you book it through the entire upstairs just laughing until tears stream down your face.

I hope you always have a love for Eddie and your Dad-do and your MAMA.  I hope you always have a belly full of chuckles.

Charlie 22 months

It’s hard to watch you go from baby to little boy. My arms ache for that tiny birdie you once were. My nose remembers your baby smell.  My heart hurts when I think about cutting your hair in a couple months (because that is the deal I have with daddy. I get baby hair for two years. Then snip snip).

Charlie 22 months

Two more months of “baby”.

I will take that two months and I will snuggle it up.

The Big Ten

2012-12-26 18.57.48

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.

2013-01-13 09.04.05

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.

Muh Muh Muh.

on the move

Nine months.

A school year.

A full-term pregnancy.

Eddie’s age when I finally reached out for help with my postpartum depression.

Nine months.

Tomorrow, dear Charlie, you will be nine months old.

Three quarters of a year.

Officially on the “outside” longer than on the “inside”.

I’m trying not to be emotional about this month, but my little son, this 9-month thing strikes me so strangely in my heart and in my mind.

Today I held you before bed and watched as you got so silly with sleepiness.  Each time I asked you if you want to go “night night” you shook your head and grinned.

You are so SO happy.

You are so SO amazingly gracious and loving and stubborn and cute and smart and chatty and all of the things.

I try to soak every second of it in becauseI just don’t remember this time of Eddie’s life.

He was just as old as you are when I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression.  It still shocks me how little I can recall from that time.

I don’t want that to happen again.

You are growing and changing so fast, Charlie.  It’s hard to keep up. It’s hard to absorb every little change because just when I think I have you re-memorized, you change and grow a bit more.

You have yet to meet a food you won’t eat.  Seriously, you like it all, and you sort of want to eat all the things when you are hungry.  However, no matter how much you had for dinner, you NEED at least a small bottle before you can fall asleep.  Confession? I love that. Because 9 times out of 10 it’s me who gets to give you that bottle.  It’s my guaranteed Charlie Time each day.

At Thanksgiving we let you taste potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, and turkey. You liked all of them and would have very much preferred more than just the tiny taste of each.  But you ate the baby food we fed you anyway.  And sucked down a bottle of formula like a champ.  Like I said, you don’t turn down food.

Unless your gums hurt.

Like when four teeth tried to break through at the same time…two of which were your two front teeth.

Your poor little gums were swollen to the max and were giving you fits.

You had a high fever, the barfs, the poops…and then POP.  Four teeth and you were a little dream again.

You are “talking” more and more.  It’s like you have figured out that there are other ways of communicating your needs rather than crying and you are exploring them all.

It also tickles you when we repeat back to you what you just “said.”  It’s like you have made a giant discovery that you control the sounds coming out of your mouth.

We have been signing to your words like “more” and “please” and “thank you” like we did with Eddie.  And just like Eddie, you are picking them up, but adapting them.

Eddie did the more sign correctly, but you hold your hands together above your head.  It’s like you’re doing “So Big”.  But you only do it in your high chair when you run out of food.  It’s hilarious.

And you’re quickly learning that you have a super smile and that it gets you everywhere right now.

Want to be picked up? Flash that smile.  Given a toy? The smirk comes out.  Attention paid to you?  A grunt and then a smile.

You’re suave, bud.

Your love for your brother just gets stronger as you grow…as does his love for you.

You can be a crabby mess, but when Eddie shows up?  You grin and start making “eh eh eh” sounds.

You want what Eddie has.  You are not at all interested in most stuffed animals, but when Eddie has Lamby? You do your best to strong-arm your way into his lap and grab Lamby away.  If Eddie is playing with a toy, you want to do it too.

This month, upon putting up the Christmas tree, you figured out how to crawl.  Like a moth to a flame, I tell ya.

Eddie very fashionably put a million ornaments in stylish “clumps” near the bottom.  Once he saw you beeline to them, he put them higher before I even asked.  He is smart like that, your brother.  Always looking out for you.

Even when we ask him to lay off.  He is still known to yell out, “NO SHA-WEE!” about everything.

But back to this crawling you do.

It’s funny.

You are teaching me over and over that just because I’ve had a baby your age, doesn’t mean I know anything about babies.  Unlike your brother who got up on all fours after being able to pull up from sitting to his knees and then rocked a bit and then took off at the ripe age of 8 months, you have laid on your tummy and flapped your arms and legs hoping to “take off”.  You have used rolling as your mode of transportation.

But once that tree was up, rolling was just not good enough.

You reached out your arms and pulled that little, flapping body along the floor.  This past weekend you realized you could also push with your feet and knees.

So you army crawl.

And you pull things down. Or out.

Then you roll to your back, hold what you want with your feet, and play.

Like a darn cat.

You show zero signs of trying to sit up on your own from the crawling position.

You have no desire to pull up to your knees.

You are always just content with what you can do…until you aren’t.

Then you learn what you need to be content again.  Quickly and efficiently.

That is an awesome trait, my son.

Despite my telling everyone what a happy, content baby you are, you always look so serious to others.

It takes you a while to warm up to new situations and new people…even when those people are not technically new. And so you are told, “you’re such a serious one,” all the time.

But you are not…not really.  Not once people get to know you.

Not when you are busy exploring the world that just got so much bigger to you.

I watched this week as you discovered you can now go anywhere. It’s not just the tree.  No way, that is old news.  You can get to the kitchen now and pull down all the things on the fridge.

You can take a bite of the rug (ew. something we are constantly battling with you over).

You can head down the hall to the bathroom so you can see your brother when he is in the tub.

You can book down towards our bedroom when you know daddy went that way.

I could clearly write forever about you.

{and because I don’t have a baby book even purchased let alone started for you, I sort of feel obliged to.}

But I will just tell you this:

I never expected to be so in love with you.

I thought my heart was full with your brother, but having you here with us…in our family…has changed my heart.  It has grown.

And the love I have for Eddie has changed.

The love I have for you is different.

All that love is so much…just so much.  That sometimes? I can’t believe it’s real.

That you are real.

That you are my baby.

That smile slays me.

And makes me cry.

And laugh.

And jump for joy.

But mostly? It makes me fall on my knees in thanksgiving.

Because you are a gift, Bird.

One of the three best gifts I have ever been blessed with.


magnificent 7

Dear Charlie,

This weekend you passed the 7-month mark.

Daddy, Eddie, and I were supposed to be in Chicago on the day you turned 7 months, but instead we all were exhausted and fighting colds (you too), so we stayed home.  All of a sudden I looked at you and said, “hey! you’re 7 months old today, Bird!”

And you flashed me one of your brief, mega-smiles.

You are at the most unbelievably awesome age.

Around most people you are a quiet observer, but around family and those you know and love, you are full of smiles and coos and belly laughs.

Every day it amazes me how similar yet vastly different you as a baby are than what having Eddie as a baby was like.

I know I compare you guys all the time, but I was not prepared for what Eddie was as a baby (a tiny version of all my attitude and moodiness), so with you, I was prepared for fickle, crying, high emotion (no matter what the emotion, with Eddie it was turned up to 11…still is), and the excitement that is EVERYTHING.

While you resemble your brother, you have your own way.

I recognize the baby stages of teething, putting everything in your mouth, grasping, and so on.  But the way you go through them is just different.

You are quieter.  More observant.

But you want to grab EVERYTHING.

Eddie was content with whatever 2 or 3 toys we put in front of him.  Not you.  You want the whole basket of toys and you want to empty it yourself.

They you grunt until we fill it back up so you can do it all over again.

While you love to put all the things in your mouth, you definitely prefer soft things…like the leather ears on the wooden dog stacker thing or the tag on your puppy.

See those keys?  Eddie jammed them down his throat and choked himself repeatedly so we had to take them away.

You are obsessed with “figuring them out”. Oh you gum them, but it’s not a “see if you can fit all of them in your mouth at once” game. It’s a “huh. these are not all the same. why is that? eh, I’ll taste them” type of experience.

You are sitting completely unassisted.  Although you will get yourself back on your tummy or back because your mode of transportation involves rolling and flailing.

I know if you decided to you could get yourself from your tummy to sitting.  But you just don’t seem to care about that right now.  You are perfectly content to have us set you on your booty–criss cross applesauce–where you can watch your brother’s antics and smile at all of us and clap your hands in approval.

While getting you to look up from what you are doing to smile for the camera is impossible, I wish I could show you the cute smiles you give.  You have a million faces that you pull.

You have a flirty half-smile I see you give Renae and daycare.

You have the toothy grin you give me when you haven’t seen me all day…or for five minutes.

You have the giant smile paired with the happy “growl” you do when you see daddy because he tends to bury his face in your next and make growly noises.  It’s hilarious that you identify him by this sound.

You have your giggle smile when we tickle you…because you are SO ticklish!

You have concentration face where your face gets all squishy and your cheeks get droopy and you won’t look away from what you are “figuring out”.

You have the “bird lip” face where it seems that you are looking at us like we are all fools and you know better.

You have the eye twinkle with just a hint of a smirk that makes us believe that you may just become the “naughty” one.  Or the “smart” one.  Or both.

You really don’t cry much.  You yell at us in anger, frustration, hunger, and sleepiness, but you don’t cry much

Although if we take too long to respond to your anger?  You might cry.

But really, even your mad face is so adorable.

And while you can totally sit on your own, you are VERY into grabbing ALL THE THINGS.  And sometimes that means you reach just a tad too far.

But you know what?  We let you reach just beyond your grasp.  Even if it means you fall.

Oh we scoop you right up, but then we encourage you to go for that thing again.

And you do.

You are definitely strong-willed and determined.

I like that.

I know I will NOT like it a LOT while you are growing up, but those are incredible things to have as an adult.

You and Eddie share a fierce independent streak, but again, they manifest themselves so differently.

While Eddie is not a risk-taker and needs us to fall asleep (still!) and never wanted to hold his own bottle, you fall asleep when you’re tired and grab the bottle and get the job done on your own.

Eddie wants so badly to be a big boy.  He always has.  He wants to play with the big kids, go to school, and move it move it!  By seven months he was pulling up to his knees and getting ready to crawl.

You have zero interest in these things.  You seem to be enjoying babyhood.  Your now.

You let us snuggle you and play toys with you.  You’re not determined to do the next milestone, but instead laugh and play and enjoy the one you’re in.

Eddie needs us for 3 seconds to warm up to a situation and then any hint of shy leaves his body.  You are more reserved.  You are quiet longer.  You don’t just jump into smiling and babbling at just anyone.

I don’t keep track of your stats like I did with Eddie.

That was a new mom thing, I think.

It’s not that I am neglecting remembering you though.

With Eddie I had to cling to the stats because I was sick.  I wasn’t the mom I could have been.

With you, I don’t need the stats to remember you.  I soak up your baby-ness every day.  I breathe in your smell and smooch your baby fat.

I did these things with Eddie too…but because of being sick, it was hard to sort the good from the not as good. And I can’t remember them so well anymore because even the happy happened in a fog of ick.

With you, I am doing so much better.

I don’t know how much you weigh or how long you are.

But I do know that your fingers are short and stubby compared to Eddie’s long, delicate fingers he had.

I don’t really keep track of what solids I give you or if I am on “track” or whatever.

But I do know you enjoy food as much as your brother did, even if it took you longer to understand the weird new texture in your mouth.

I don’t know what percentile you’re in.

But I do know that your once delicate features have grown plump and round and so very nommable.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that your existing could make me a better mother all around.

I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough love.

I was afraid you would take away from Eddie in an irreparable way.

Oh it hasn’t all been rainbows and easy days around here since your arrival, but there have definitely been more sunny days than rainy days.

More smiles than tears.

My sickness is still there lurking, but I am doing much better at managing it.

You and your brother and your daddy pull me through and make me whole.

I can’t believe seven months have gone by so fast.

And at the same time, I can’t imagine you not being here.

Did that time really exist?

Somehow I think no.

You were always here with us.

In some way.


The monthly comparison….

at the same age…

current day comparison

you two are brothers indeed.

And I love you fiercely with ever fiber of my heart and soul and mind.

xxoo <3 Mommy

6 months of Bird

Dear Charlie,

Yesterday you turned 6months old.

Unlike every other month milestone, I wasn’t home with you all day to stare and marvel at you.  Normally I would look at you all day and wonder how another month had flown by.

Instead, today while driving to work at 6:45am, I thought back to the day we brought you home from the hospital. Friday, March 16.

For months before you were born I was worried about my maternity leave.  My 12 weeks off would take me right up to summer break which means I would be home for 24 weeks before having to go back to work.

Almost 6 months.

I was terrified that it would be too much for me.  That you would be too much.  That your brother would be too much.  That I wasn’t cut out to be the one home with you so much for so long.

But the day we took you home, all those worries vanished.

I had you for 6 months!  Our slow way of counting time in hours…even minutes…was long and stretching before us.  It seemed endless.

I couldn’t even imagine our summer together ending.  I worried that Eddie being home for the summer starting in June would make things harder than they had to be.  But I was wrong.

We easily slipped into a new routine that included all three of us.

And then it did end.

All that time that seemed endless…well…ended.

Today I didn’t spend the day staring at you; instead I spent the day worrying about other people’s kids.  But when I arrived at daycare to get you, your scrunched up, half-asleep face broke out into a huge grin when you saw me.

That smile is worth everything, Charlie.

I can’t believe how much you have learned in the last month.

You are sitting.  You are not  totally stable, but you can do it.

You are clapping.

While on your tummy, you will spot something you want and roll or wiggle yourself on your tummy to try to get to it.  You reach and reach and REACH for things.

But you won’t do any of these things just for us because we want you to.  No way. You are stubborn and on your own schedule.

I am convinced you could sit on your own for weeks before you would actually do it.

And now that you have discovered it, you act like being laid down on your back is SOOO beneath you.

Oh Charlie.

We busted out the “solid” foods: bananas and sweet potatoes are favorites while apples get the side eye.  Although you dig carrots, peas get the scrunched up “yuck” face.

Monday is your 6-month well child appointment, but I am guessing you will weigh in close to 20 pounds.  All of your fine, bird-like features have plumped up considerably.

Like your brother did at your age, you have discovered that you can roll on your tummy at night and sleep.  So you do.  We find you on your belly all the time when you wake up.  But unlike your brother, you almost always wake up so happy.  We listen to you “talking” and cooing for probably 20 minutes before you start to get lonely and cry out a little.  But the minute we show up? All smiles.

Your love for your brother is starting to shine through in a bright way.

You now see him more than you see me or daddy and it’s clear you are quite fond of Eddie.  When he is around, you are craning your neck trying to see what he is doing.  If he is close to you, you are reaching and grabbing to touch him.  When he talks to you, you smile.  When he blows raspberries on your tummy or lightly wrestles you, you squeal out in delight.  Nobody has the ability to instantly make you happy the way your brother does.

He is the only person you consistently reach for when he is near.

Charlie, I have experience with a baby, I do not have experience with siblings.  You are showing me a love I didn’t know my heart could embrace.  Watching you and Eddie form a bond is one of the most overwhelmingly wonderful feelings I have ever had.

I can tell already though, that even with the immense love you have for each other, you are already figuring out how to push his buttons.  Your brother is a wee bit dramatic, and you find it hilarious. Already.

I keep waiting for you to no longer want to be in the moby wrap or cuddled/held so much, but your love of being in a pair of loving, soft arms is as strong as ever.

Just last night as you were falling asleep, you suddenly opened your eyes wide, gave a smirk behind your pipey when we made eye contact, and turned your face into my chest and went right back to sleep.

Oh my Charlie.

You’ve been part of our home for 6 months, but you have clearly been part of our family forever.  You are a piece of the puzzle that is Sluiter Nation that we didn’t know was missing until you arrived and filled that space.

I am so very proud of you.

And I love you so very much.




As usual…the comparison:  6 months

This picture is SO representative of their different personalities!


Hey!  Look at me!  I was syndicated on BlogHer for my post Advocacy vs Avoidance!  Come say hi!

a one month letter

Dear Charlie,

You are one month old today.

Stop that.  Stop that getting older thing right this minute.

Sorry.  I got all cliche on you there for a second.  But really, I don’t think anyone can believe it’s been a whole dang month already since you were sliced out of my belly.

Yesterday we were at the doctor’s office and they weighed you.  10lbs, 4 oz.  Dude.  That is a pound and 2 ounces in like a week’s time.  You are a champ!  Must be because you are averaging about 20-24 ounces of formula a day.

You are such an agreeable baby, my son.

You put yourself on a three-hour schedule almost immediately after moving into our house.  Sometimes at night, you will go four, even five hours at a stretch, but during the day, you want food every three hours.

You sleep really well too.  We will get some awake time where you coo and “chat”, but mostly you eat, poop, and sleep.

Rarely do you get so crabby you can’t be consoled…you’re maybe an anger ball for about an hour once every other day.

Just like your brother, you’ve found the elephant on the wall next to the changing table.  When you’re not mad at me for having your booty cakes out in the breeze, you are happily staring, and sometimes cooing, at that dang elephant.

I’m sorry that I compare you to your brother so much.  It’s hard not to though.  I mean, he’s all I have to say what mothering an infant is like, and you…well you are quite a bit different than he was.

So just for funsies, instead of comparing you in personality and temperament, I’ve got some pictures of you both at this age.

a fresh Eddie

newborn Charlie


Daddy and Eddie bonding

Daddy and Charlie cuddling


Eddie at 6 days for his newborn photoshoot

Charlie at 7 days old for his photoshoot (also with mL photography)


upclose with Eddie

Charlie's close up


And lastly…

Eddie at 4 weeks old

Charlie at 4 weeks

There is a LOT about you two that is alike upon first glance, but that is really where it ends.  Most of my pictures of your brother are of him wide awake and yelling.  The pics I have of you are all of you snoozing.

Eddie was rocking tummy time by four weeks.  You have zero interest in it.  In fact, it’s almost difficult to find time to put you on your tummy.  You’re either eating or sleeping all the time.

But you have one thing in common with Eddie.  You both love to snuggle.

I hope neither of you ever grow out of needing me.

I love you, sweet Charlie Bird.

You make me happy every day.



Oh hey!  The lovely Courtney from GCS Design worked her magic yet again (you’ll remember that she designed my business card and this blog), and whipped up Charlie’s birth announcement.  I am excited to share it with you all!

To the Charlie Bird

Dear Charlie,

You are 11 days old today.

Every single one of the past eleven days I have marveled at you.

You are perfection in baby form, my little man.

I can hardly believe you’re here, and at the same time, I can’t imagine that you were ever not here.

When I was pregnant with you, I would get the sweats and a nauseous stomach thinking about what it would be like once you got here.

My only frame of reference was what your brother was like as a newborn and how I handled it.

I’m sure you’ve heard the stories.

So you understand I had reason to be nervous.

Turns out, I was wrong.

From the moment you were handed to me we have been smitten with each other.

The days and nights in the hospital were full of snuggles and whispers and learning each other.  Your deep blue eyes locked onto my face and I fell into them.  Hard.

Your temperament is so calm.  When you are awake, you like to just stare at me.

And if someone else is holding you, and I speak, you crane around to find me.  This may have been an issue at your newborn photoshoot with Missy causing her to shush me into silence.

You are most comfortable in my arms where you nuzzle your nose against me or stare into my face.  Sometimes I think this makes daddy feel left out, but I can’t get enough of it.  It’s just a new feeling to me.

Also new to me?  A baby who sleeps during the day…without me having to hold him.  While standing.  And swaying.

Seriously, little man.  You can sleep for 3-4 hours during the day with no problem.  And you have even given me up to FIVE hours in a row at night.  Sometimes I hold you while you sleep just because I miss you!

You are back up to your birth weight of 8 lbs, 9 ounces which just still seems so tiny to me after your brother who was 9.5 lbs.  Your doc says you are in the 50-75th % for weight and head size.  I declared that tiny.  Daddy said, “no.  he is average.  You are just used to a boy who never drops lower than the 95th % for anything.

True that.

So, you know…tiny.

You look so much like your daddy.  You have his little chin and narrow-shaped eyes.  You have his long toes and his bird legs.

And you are laid-back.

Just like daddy was the exact right complement to my high energy, high drama personality, I think you are that complement to your brother.

He is my wild Eddie Bear and you are my calm little Charlie Bird.

He adores you.

And I can tell, Charlie Bird, that you absolutely love him back.

This morning while I started this letter, Eddie asked daddy to play some music–Lady Gaga’s Poker Face.  He wanted to show you how to “shake your booty.”

Our house was filled with the bump of the bass as daddy and Eddie wiggled their behinds around the kitchen and I sat and giggled.

In a moment of particular hilarity I declared, “Oh how I love my life!”

I don’t know how you did it, Charlie, but you made this crazy happy family even happier.

Welcome to being a Sluiter.

We love you more than any words I could every say or type.


Looking for more of my writing?  I did a post for Women’s History Month at Borderless News and Views this week:  We’re Not There Yet.

being ready

Dear Charlie,

In just five weeks it will be the eve of your birth.

I have many emotions swirling around in my head and heart when I think about the closeness of your arrival.

I get nervous stomach and sweaty palms from excitement and anxiety.

I have been replaying Eddie’s birth over and over in my head as I prepare to go under the knife again for you.  Eddie’s c-section  was an emergency.  I had been awake for over 24 hours and had been in labor most of that time.  I was exhausted and hardly knew what was going on.

With you, I have an appointment for the morning of March 13.  I will be able to shower, put on some comfy clothes, do my hair and light make-up, and walk into my room in the hospital.

I’m not nervous…but I am.

I mean, it’s surgery.  I think anyone who is going to go in to be cut open is a little bit nervous.

But I know what it’s like, so that helps.

As of this weekend, to distract my nerves and anxiety, I have been consumed with doing things around the house.  The problem?  I really can’t do any of the things I want to do.  This week we get carpet in Eddie’s new room and daddy will put together Eddie’s furniture, which means this weekend I can start to put Eddie’s books and toys and clothes away.

I have piles of stuff for you that I want to wash and put away, but I have to wait until Eddie’s stuff is put away first.

And lately other things have distracted me.  I think I have made mental lists of “stuff” I want to do/purge in every room of our house.

I wonder if this is what nesting feels like.

I never felt this way when I was pregnant with Eddie.  Daddy kept waiting for it to happen, but I just got more and more tired.

This time, I feel like cleaning things and organizing and purging.

I need to open up space for us to grow and be comfortable.

Right now I feel cluttered.

My mind, our house, my emotions…all cluttered.

Perhaps you have noticed that I have been trying to show Eddie a little extra love and attention lately.   To be honest, I have been afraid that he will feel left out once you are here.

You don’t know this yet, but you take up a lot of time and attention.  Time and attention that Eddie is used to completely having.

I know he won’t remember any of this. I don’t remember Uncle Chris being born and we are exactly the same age spread as you and Eddie.

But he knows what is happening NOW.  He has feelings NOW.

Up until you are born, Eddie’s place in this family is the only child.

That is going to change, but it will be even better.

He will get to add Big Brother and Oldest to his roles.

And you will be Little Brother and Youngest.

Our hearts and love will expand to encompass both of you in a completely new way that we can’t imagine yet.

I think not being able to imagine or understand is what makes my hands clammy and brings the nerves to my tummy.

But my heart knows it to be true.

I know they say to enjoy the pregnancy because it is so much easier to care for the baby when he is on the inside rather than when he is on the outside.

But I am ready for you to be here.

I am ready to lose sleep in order to feed and care for you.

I am ready to relearn feeding schedules and sleep schedules.

I am ready for giving warm baths in the infant tub and wrapping you up like a little burrito.

I am ready to fall asleep on the couch with you wrapped up tight next to me.

I am ready for Eddie and daddy to fall in love with you the way I already have.

I am ready.

Five more weeks.