Dear Owen: a letter at 2 years, 4 months

dear_07

You are a little boy now. And our summer has been full of all the little boy things.

We watched out the front window as the city worked on our road, again. Each day, you would get up and ask about the ‘druckins happening outside. Our days were filled playing ‘druckins, using all the gid deers and eccavaders and backhoes you have to create roads on our living room floor. As we ride in the car, you are often the first to point out any kind of machinery, congratulating yourself with a prompt Good eyes, Buddy! when you do.

We spent much of each day outside, to our joint delight. The beach became our second home, and you spent hours building sand mountains, racing into the water, and crab walking around, getting as much of your little body in as possible. You learned to jump off the piers and were always, always looking for fish. Driving home for lunchtime, I would hand you graham cracker after graham cracker in an attempt to keep you awake, looking back at you to see you dozing off mid-graham.

This was also the summer of baseball. Owen, you are your father’s son. You love being pitched to, pitching, hitting off the tee. I think I will always remember the feeling of preparing dinner and looking outside our kitchen window to the backyard, to watch your dad put the ball on the tee over and over again. As June gave way to September, you started crushing balls over the fences enclosing you, always stopping to take a focused lap around the bases, even if the ball landed just feet away. Inside, cooking spoons, our wooden giraffe puppets, your own arms became baseball bats. Over and over, you’d pick up a fake ball, throw it to me, and then wait expectantly in a batting stance. Sometimes, you’d just pitch to yourself, yelling home run! oer the fence! or ground ball! or base hit! or strikeout! after each swing, taking a lap around the dining room table and back to home base. I love waking up in the morning to see you and your dad, eating cheerios, watching baseball highlights together.

This has all been the summer of stuffed animals…and piles. You are regularly carrying between 2-6 stuffed animals, dropping them and screaming in frustration, building mounds of them and huge piles of all of your toys on the couch, on the floor, in your crib. We are ever looking for Baby Puppy or Monkey or Mama Puppy or Lambie or trying to evaluate which animals you should bring on a walk, in the car, to the kitchen.

On a whim, we decided to potty train you. You spent about three weeks in June totally pants less, and you have had relatively few accidents. I have this image of you, sitting on your froggy potty, at least 2 stuffed animals in hand, maybe also trying to read a book. Once we introduced the reward of a BIG marshmallow for a poop, you managed to squeeze out the tiniest of turds every time you used the potty. It was incredible. You worked that system like a boss. You are mostly in underwear these days, except when you sleep. We’re really proud of you!

It has not been all rosy. There have been tantrums and more whiny afternoons then I care to remember. We are working hard on obeying right away, getting under control (in which you cover your mouth with your hand very solemnly), and being kind to Elsa. Anything in her hands automatically becomes the object of your heart’s desire, and you end up hurting her at least twice a day…intentionally or not. There have been timeouts and threats of consequences (“like Stella Bella?”) you always say. My mantra has been a quote I saw on this blog: Don’t get so busy trying to raise a good kid that you forget you already have one.

For there is a lot of good in you, Owen Bowen. You greet almost everyone we see with a friendly hello and a wave. You bring toys to your friends and are working so hard at sharing, often singing Daniel Tiger’s You can take a turn and then I’ll get it back as you do. You love life and are excited by all of the details. You are full of these and determination, telling me all day, “I can do it wif my OWN self!” You are passionate, exuberant. I suggest we paint and you are jumping up and down saying, “Thas a great perfect idea, Mom!” We turn up the volume on the Hampster Dance to clean up and you are picking up toys, spinning in circles of pure joy. There is so much to love about living with you.

You are ever bringing us books to read and even more often asking us: “Can you tell me a dory?” Your dad and I have told you every story about your grandpas and sports and dogs and sledding and camping that we can think of. Your appetite for stories is insatiable, and I love that about you. You are completely obsessed with the story of David and Goliath, singing the song and re-enacting the story (from both sides!) all day long, paging through your Bible to find that one every time. We are starting to tell you more stories about Jesus, and your questions about God are plentiful…Is God gonna come today? Is God in the car? Is Jesus gonna be in the backyard?

God gave you to us, Owen. Us. And daily, I am praying that I can “make straight the pathway to the Lord” for you, that my actions, my words, my attitudes will be a highway, even and smooth, for you to walk on towards Him.  I don’t always get it right. But I pray that you see Him in your dad and I.

I love you more than you know,

Mom

Things You Love: construction machines, tractors, animals of every kind, baseball, Daniel Tiger, Veggie Tales, David and Goliath, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, painting, play dough, ABCs, books, stories, Curious George, Clifford, Berenstein Bears, your stuffed animals (chiefly Monkey & Baby Puppy), food, snacks, juice, helping cook, when your Dad comes home, your grandparents, being outside, bringing rocks inside the house, splashing like a crazy person in the bath

Things You Hate: coming inside, the last story, the last song, the last book, going potty when you’re busy playing, when Dad isn’t home at bedtime, being told not to climb something, timeouts, when you drop something you’re carrying

Dear Elsa: a letter at 8 months

dear-elsa

I’ve said it before. It astounds me that I used to have to hold your head up, and now you are pulling yourself to standing, proudly holding onto the ottomans, standing for minutes on end. You are incapable of sitting still now, ever lunging forward, rocking on hands and knees, about to take off for the moon. You are a lady on the go, and I keep wondering where my tiny baby went.

Your newborn wails have been replaced by what will soon be words. You look at me and say bamamamabama (sometimes even just a simple mama!) and my heart shatters into 8,000 pieces. You are trying out other words too, giving us Sid-the-Sloth-like yish,yish,yish es before an encore of five minutes of raspberry lips that leaves the front of your shirt soaked.

You laugh to the point of hiccups all throughout the day, At Owen whenever he comes near you, almost exploding if he brings you a toy. At your dad as he twirls you around in a fast slow dance in the living room. At me when I munch on your belly or play This is the Way the Lady Rides over and over. You love to dance and any music and are totally enthralled by your dad’s guitar.

Possibly my favorite thing about you is how you move when I come near you. You are sitting up on the floor, surrounded by toys, and if I start to walk (or especially crawl) towards you, your entire body wiggles, arms and legs exploding with motion, telling me “yes! yes! this is what I’ve always wanted!” It is one of the most loving responses imaginable.

You are still a happy baby, though this past month has been rough. Your top two teeth finally came through after much agony, and you have been sick. For a month. Coughing with a runny nose and it has been mostly terrible. Your little lungs sound like gravel, and after a coughing fit, you look at us, pleading why with your eyes. The doctors keep telling us to wait, wait, these things take a while, but I’d do anything to help you over this hump.

With your sickness has come a total lack of sleep at nights. You are getting up 2-3 times a night regularly, and often these past few weeks, have ended up in bed with us in an attempt to not wake Owen up. Your dad and I hug the corners of the bed, our knees cradling you in the middle. Sometimes you lay on your belly, taking up all the space. Other times, you and I share a pillow, and I wake up to your face turned towards mine in a smile. You love to be cuddled, and truth be told, though my neck and shoulders and exhaustion plead otherwise, I love snuggling you at night too.

Your illness and teething have also led you into what is known around here as The Snarfie Phase. You open-mouth kiss us all the time, leaving a trail of saliva and snot on our cheeks, collar bones, necks, and shirts, not unlike a slimy snail trail. It is wet and gross and we just let you keep doing it.

Elsa, I love having a daughter. And what’s more, I love having you as my daughter. You are so full of life and happiness; I’d do anything to keep you from hurt or harm. I can’t wait to braid your hair. I can’t wait to have a sleepover full of your little girl friends and make them pink-frosted cookies. I can’t wait to teach you about nature and God and food and books. But I also mostly want you stay a baby forever because there has never been anything more snuggly than you in footie jammies.

You are my girl, and I love you always,

Mom

Things You Love: bath time, running water of any kind, Owen, being naked, standing, playing with toys, chewing on anything, teething biscuit bread sticks, chewing on your toes, playing outside, swings!, videos of any kind, computer screens, funny noises, music, dancing, burping

Things You Hate: getting out of the bath, diaper changes, being laid down to sleep, falling over, when Owen hurts you, when we take leaves away from you and out of your mouth, when you can’t burp,

Dear Elsa: a letter at seven months

dear-elsa

elsa-standingYou are seven months old, my dear, seven! And you have been busy making your little self known. You are definitely not “the quiet one” you seemed to be. Our days are filled with your squawks and squeaks, and more and more, it seems like you’re trying to communicate. You look right at us and grin, laugh, groan. You catch our eyes and make this breathy little dragon sound – lips turned in, and I think you know you’re being funny. You drop your toy, your breadstick, and you immediately break into a whiny cry, your lips out andpouting. You are ever trying out new squeaks, new raspberry sounds, seeing what your voice can do.

Your favorite thing to do is sit, unassisted, on the floor, surrounded by toys. You can play quietly by yourself for like 20 minutes, only tipping over when you’re really stretching towards a certain toy; often I find that you’ve gone from sitting to a crawling position. You’re not crawling yet, but you turn yourself on your belly from the 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock position with ease, rolling (both ways now!) and stretching to get where you want, to get what you want. You also do an armless backstrock of sorts, on your back, knees bent, torso up – and then you push off with your legs, scooting about 4 inches at a time. You can cover a surprising amount of ground this way.

You are also completley obsessed with standing. You love nothing more than to hold onto our hands and stand, or lean against an ottoman, or the side of your crib. Your “sturdy” legs, or “wide base” as your dad calls it, is really strong, and you just delight in holding yourself upright. The other day, you were sitting on the changing table. I was standing right next to you but turned my head for a second to address Owen, and before I knew it, you were nearly pulling yourself to standing, holding onto the dresser. What?! For as much as you love standing, you’re not so into the doorway swing, despite Owen’s attempts to rocket launch you from the kitchen to the dining room with his underdogs.

This past month, we started giving you solid foods, and thusfar, you are not a fan. You gag every three bites. You turn your head away. You cry. I’ve tried all the gentle foods, and you’re just not that into it. We have had relatively more success if we give you a breadstick or piece of fruit to hold and gnaw on while we sneak bites of pureed fruits and veggies in when you’re not looking. But at this point, I’d say you don’t really relish food. You sort of put up with it and look at us as if to say: Really? This is what we’re doing now?

You’re certainly getting enough to eat, though, Elsa Girl. At a doctor’s appointment last week, you weighed in at 20 lbs., 5 oz. – hovering somewhere around the 94th percentile. Your rolls are impressive, and your round cheeks just beg to be kissed all day. I know you’re going to crawl soon, and all those rolls will slowly melt away, so I’m trying to squeeze your thighs (or your “inner knees”) at least six times a day. I will miss your rolls terribly when they’re gone.

We’ve sort of lost our nights this past month. You and Owen are in the same room, and ever since the switch to your crib, you have been getting up at least once a night. You cry, and your dad and I race down the hall to get you before you wake Owen up. I take you back to the couch or our bed, nurse you until you fart or burp, when you immediately fall back to sleep on my shoulder. Having you asleep on my shoulder is everything – the heavy weight of your body, warm against mine, your breath slow and steady on my shoulder – these moments in the dark are sleepy, but I hold you for an extra minute or two, squeezing all the baby out of you that I can.

Now that you and Owen are in the same room, we do bedtime a bit differently. The four of us pile onto our bed. Your dad reads stories in his funny voices and accents, while Owen drinks milk and rubs his hair before squirming around the bed like a small otter. Meanwhile, I nurse you, being careful to keep your feet from touching Owen for fear of his foot-touched rage. You burp, usually giggle, refuse your pacifier. I try to relax you, sometimes giving you Tylenol for your slow and stubborn growing teeth, which you also refuse, believing it to be poison. Eventually we turn the light out and sing a song or two…I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, You are My Sunshine, Jesus Loves the Little Children, The Trains are Asleep…and we pray together. It’s one of my favorite times of the day, all of us together. Your dad carries Owen with his six stuffed animals, and I carry you, your head heavy on my shoulder. I lay you in your crib, tucking your bunny in with you, and you roll onto your left side, knees tucked up. I don’t know why all of this feels so weighty, so significant, but I don’t want to forget it.

And so I write.
You are a JOY, Elsa, and I’m so glad you’re mine.

Love,
Mom

Things You Love: sleeping in our bed, burping / farting, breadsticks, sitting up, toys (especially plastic keys, the tickle bug, and anything that makes a crinkly, plastic sound), bath time, being naked, the Ergo, when your dad bounces and dances with you, music, dancing, chewing on anything, Owen

Things You Hate: getting out of the bath (you cry bitter, bitter tears), getting dressed, your pacifier :(, when Owen takes toys from you, being fed with a spoon, most solid foods, tylenol