Friday, May 22, 2015

That time I thought Sally was a month older than she really is ...

Yesterday I proudly announced on facebook that Sally was 22 months old, the same age that Walter was when she was born.  Pretty wild/crazy/neat, except that she's actually 21 months old.  Whew.

Still my baby!
I've been anticipating that milestone, of course. As it approaches, I can't help but draw comparisons, and wonder and feel wistful about how little Walter was, really, when Sally joined our family. I don't think many people say this out loud, unless they are saying it to their pastor, but while there are benefits to spacing babies close together, there are some things worth feeling sad about, too.  Walter lost a little bit of babyhood, no doubt about it.  And my relationship with Walter changed, too ... we started having, as he would put it, "some troubles."  We're still sorting these troubles out, Walter and I.  I anticipate ... going out on a limb, here ... that there may still be more troubles to come.

My sweet boy, with pink flowers
But I'm not sure "totally conflict free" was ever a good goal for me to have in terms of relating to my children, especially Walter who is so much like me. I might need to let that goal go, and go for "mostly appropriate, healthy response to conflict" instead.  To that end, Walter and I have been practicing our calming breaths and our "I" statements.  He's really, really good at "I" statements.

Walter's coming out of a rough time of acting out at school, we think due to transitions (older kids moving up into a different classroom.) We helped him with strategies for staying calm, alternatives to hitting and biting, and incentives for good days and good choices.  But, mostly, I think he came through it and out of it on his own.  He was ready to start listening and self-regulating again.  After more than a week of co-sleeping, he's back to spending most of the night in his own bed, just joining us in our bed in the morning when he wakes up.  He's smiling more, laughing more, brightening all around.

Little kids have big feelings. I remember feeling like my emotions were much larger and more powerful than I was when I was a kid. I truly, truly enjoyed growing up and leaving each stage behind (life got easier as I got older.)  I wonder if Walter will feel the same way?

We'll see ... in the meantime, I'll do my best not to rush him, or Sally, months or years ahead of where they actually should be!

A celebration of Walter, exactly as he is now (3 and half-ish ... I'm not counting months anymore ... I'm clearly not very good at it ... )
She seems like a good role model

  • Walter has a new favorite color: green.  Pink and purple are also still favorites. He is excited to start gardening soon. 
  • Walter is excited for outdoor farmer's market season to begin, and enjoys reading the latest (summery) issue of Everyday with Rachel Ray. He enjoys watching cooking shows in Create, too. 
  • He loves shrimp, all kinds.
  • He got to choose new bedding for his room, and chose Doc McStuffins. which I don't think he's ever seen, but we were pleased with the choice. 
  • He is tremendously sweet and snuggly.  I love going on walks with him, holding his hand. 
  • With Walter, you can really relax and enjoy the good things in life: a nice walk, a snuggle in the morning,
    Walter, with blocks
    eating popcorn and watching a movie, a beautiful bluegrass song. Our favorite thing to do  continues to be breakfast together once a week ... a very simple time apart from the rest of the world that we both really enjoy.
  • On our family walks, Walter likes to get out of the stroller and run (though never too far, and never so I'm too nervous about it.) He also likes to pick dandelions. He was horrified when I told him that, once he'd picked a yellow dandelion, it would never continue on to the white stage. He's a pretty sensitive kid, and interrupting the dandelion life cycle was a serious issue for him, no matter how hard I tried to reassure him. Now he only picks white dandelions, and always blows the seeds and scatters them, to help them. Sometimes he plants the seeds in Sally's hair because, in addition to being a sensitive soul, Walter is also a sibling. 
  • He is brilliant and HILARIOUS. His word play is really getting very good.  The other night, Sean made mu shu pork.  Suddenly, in the middle of enjoying his dinner Walter stopped and said, "This is no good ... IT COMES FROM COWS." As he waited for the pun to sink in, he realized there was another pun to be had. "It comes from the FEET of cows!!" He added, to our great delight. 
  • Walter loves books of all kinds. He loves Fraggle Rock and Curious George.  He's not into anything right now (not like the Frozen or Peter Pan hey days) ... lately he wants to be outside, or he wants to rediscover his inside toys, like his blocks or his workbench. 
  • His greatest sources of delight: visits from Umma and Baba, outings or other time outside school spent with Henry and family, sweets, especially chocolate (he got my sweet tooth,) breakfast or other dates with Mama, reading to us (counting books and others he has memorized or can figure out from pictures,) and snuggles especially with Daddy. 

A celebration of Sally, 21 months old (NOT 22!)

  • While she occasionally tests our limits/patience/the laws of physics, Sally is almost entirely a delight. I was listening to her talk over the monitor, before she fell asleep, which is one of my favorite things, and I asked Sean, "Is she always going to be this delightful?" "No," he said, "Definitely not."  It's not that we think she'll be less delightful as she gets older, it's just that there's nothing in the world as delightful as listening to a toddler sing a medley of "itsy bitsy spider," "twinkle twinkle little star," and "my purple balloon goes sailing," to the dolls in her crib.  That's pretty delightful.
    Playing/working hard. Gave me a smile when she saw the camera.
  • What we're mostly listening for over the monitor these days is bad coughing/asthma-like symptoms (we haven't gotten an official diagnosis, or anything, but Dr. L. is treating her like she's got allergy-induced asthma, and that seems to be the case.) What I'm celebrating about that is that she's really good at taking her medicine, including her albuterol inhaler. Walter helps her with her medicine, too, which is wonderful (and he recently learned how to swallow pills, which is amazing. Sean and I, allergy-having kids though we were, didn't learn to do that until we were seven or so.)
  • Sally loves her lullabies, including the one I wrote for her, but she insists that I insert the names of other people into it. Tonight we sang to "Jaysa bug," "Jackson dear," "Chelsea girl," and "Emily boo," all at her request. Other favorites include Mommy, Daddy, Walter, Jesus and Matt (Henry's dad.) I think it's her way of praying for other people, kind of a "God bless..." prayer. It's an odd experience for me, sometimes, to sing something so personal and tender to classmates of hers I barely know.  She's taking that "your family is the whole wide world" stuff to heart, that girl. 
  • Sally loves all food.  Sometimes she'll try something and not like it.  No big deal ... she'll just move on with the meal and not eat that thing, but usually she'll try it again later and like it.  She's been dairy-free for a few weeks to help with some GI issues, and has managed that quite well.  She's the eating champ of the world.  She prefers salty things to sweet ... she and I polished off a bag of black olives the other night and I was pretty proud. 
  • Sally can count, reliably, to five.  She loves counting, especially because it's something Walter teaches her to do. 
  • It goes without saying, I think, that Sally is a brilliant communicator (that's kind of a funny sentence, when you think about it.)  She has a huge vocabulary and puts together sentences very well.  Two favorites: "Read the book, Mama." "_____ right there" (informing us of something that is happening and the fact that it is happening ... right there. 
  • Sally calls me "Mommy." I'm not sure why ... we usually use "Mama" in this house. Maybe they taught it to her at school? Regardless, Sally is pretty clear on her use of "Mommy" and "Daddy."  It's nice ... it feels like being named. 
A celebration of the two of them, Walter and Sally
  • The way they love Dr. Suess books that feature Sally and her big brother (who we assume is Walter.)
  • The way they love to brush their teeth and read books.
  • The way Walter always wants to read books in Sally's room, and Sally always wants to read book in Walter's room. 
  • The way they are in this picture (the one I took just before the one posted above, before Sally realized I was taking pictures and gave me that big smile.)  They went to the living room after dinner and immediately got to work.  Sally brought the stool over to the easel, got herself a marker, put her drink in one of the paint cup holders and set to work.  Walter went over to his work bench, got out a board and various screws, nuts and bolts and a screw driver, and set to work.  I came in and sat down behind them, and they were just so beautiful, so industrious, so focused, so at peace with themselves and the world. Some people would probably look at this photo and see the opposite of peace... they'd see the clutter, the mess, the chaos. But truly truly I tell you, it is a picture of peace. And it is, and they are, beautiful. 

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