Four and a Half

“Mommy, can you come check the temperature? It says 8 6. Well, I know I’m right about the 8,” he poses as he wiggles and tugs for my attention.

I leave my school snack making for a minute to walk with him to our thermostat, which does, in fact display an 8 and a 6.

“You’re right!” I say to a beaming four year old. “The temperature says 6-8. It is 68 degrees in our house. That’s pretty warm. And this part says 2-1. It’s only 21 degrees outside, that’s cold!”

“Aw, man, so I have to wear a jacket?” he bemoans as he stomps away.

“Yes, you have to wear a jacket when it’s cold outside,” I reply as I make my way back to school snack duty.

He grumbles as he slowly lays his jacket out on the floor and does the cool flip it over his head trick his teachers taught him at school.

“Will you zip me, Mommy?”

We fall into our usual routine of packing and zipping and shoe Velcro-ing as we make our way to the door and out into the cold.

These mornings have gotten easier, now that he’s old enough to do part of the getting ready.

As we drive to school he points out the letters on the license plates he sees in front of us.

He asks how fast I’m driving and says “Mommy, I saw the speed limit sign that said 5-4. So don’t drive any faster than 5-4.”

I assure him I won’t, knowing that this must be a translation of 45.

He discovers an 8 and a 0 and a 6 and reads the word STOP to me.

And then he tells me that he sees “many more deciduous trees than evergreen trees but Christmas trees are evergreen trees.”

When did he grow up?

This little one is so big and observant. He likes to make plans and study pictures. He seems to remember everything I say except for the parts about “please clean your room” and “stop chasing the cats.”

We are still working on letters and numbers but he sees and notices them all around him and is beginning to pick out words in our bedtime stories. It won’t be long before he is reading in the slow, focused, and melodic way all children start.

He has a strong sense of humor and loves to feel authoritative. (Sorry, cats.) He is compiling himself and his experiences into his very own version of life.

It’s a conclusion I come to over and over at various stages in his life; my sweet little boy is not so little anymore.

My sweet boy at 4 and 1/2.

My sweet boy at 4 and 1/2. (And part of my husband’s eye.) 

 

 

 

Waiting and Watching

I had completed all of my errands and found myself sitting in the school parking lot. With not enough time to drive home and be back in time I parked my car and waited.

A parade of little people soon trickled out followed by the soccer coach. My dad, sister, and brother all loved soccer and I so desperately want my son to like it, too, so he’s signed up for the after school session.

I couldn’t place him; he blended in so well with all the other parent hearts disguised in preschoolers.

I watched as he ran and stretched and played what he would later describe to me as the “cape game” which was the soccer coach’s attempt at organized chaos when directing 12 four year olds with soccer balls.

I know it was him, even from far away. I recognized his outfit that we had laid out together so carefully the night before. He was so proud of his new shark shirt that lifted a flap to reveal that shark ate pizza. (It’s actually quite adorable.) I recognized the new blue corduroy pants I just bought for him and his red hair that shines brightly in the sun. I recognized his run and his attention span and his mood.

He would tell me later that he liked soccer but it made him too tired and maybe he shouldn’t go back next week.

He didn’t know I was watching from the car. He didn’t know I saw him follow directions, and run with a grin stretching from ear to ear. He didn’t know that I saw him give the cape to another friend and that I watched him stand close to the coach so he could do his stretch just right.

He didn’t see my smiling from far away as I watched him laugh and play and that watching him made my heart swoon.

I don’t always know every detail of his day, now that he’s older and growing up and has his very own piece of the world. But yesterday I got to glimpse a small part of his life. His life separate from mine; his world that he’s learning to navigate all on his own.

I was watching him and finding myself in awe of this amazing little person I get to call my child.

Four

“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Dear Noah, Happy Birthday to you,”

I sang softly into his ear as I rubbed his back.

We were waking up in an unfamiliar but extremely comfortable bed at the beach for a combination celebration of his 4th birthday and my husband’s 30th.

“I can’t believe you are four years old today!” I enthusiastically said as I watched his toothless grin appear beneath the haze of his sleepy eyes.

He gripped his Curious George lovey and snuggled close as he began to transition from his sleepiness.

“But Mommy?” he asked urgently once he had time to gather his thoughts. “Do you still love me if I’m four?”

I hugged him tightly as I responded “Of course I still love you! I love you every day, all the time, and I will love you forever no matter what age you are!”

“You will love me even when I’m sixteen?”

“Yes, I will love you even when you’re sixteen. I will love you forever.”

We slowly transitioned out of bed, because just beyond our bedroom door in the beach house all of his uncles and aunts were waiting. It was our very first combined sibling beach trip and it was so much fun!

But there in the midst of the excitement, I found myself staring at my sweet four year old boy, who I remembered as a baby and in all his in-between stages until now.

And of course I will love him, no matter how old he gets, no matter what he does, no matter who he becomes.

A Happy Birthday to the love of my life, my sweet little four year old.

 

Celebrating four years at the beach

Celebrating four years at the beach

My 30 year old and my 4 year old.

My 30 year old and my 4 year old

 

 

End of The Year

I drove home alone from choir rehearsal as the dusk began to settle into dark.

Tears had been on the verge of falling for days, but I was completely unsure of why.

When’s the last time you let yourself cry? I asked myself. Surprisingly, I could not come up with an answer. Not a stranger to tear fall, I realized it had been a long time since I gave myself permission to just let go.

I got home to a house still alive with lights though it was well past bedtime. Things don’t always go according to schedule when I leave my boys to their own devices.

Last week was the end of the year songfest at my son’s preschool where they gave an adorable performance which I was unable to capture on film because my phone is ridiculous. (Or it was a user error. Either way.)

End of the Year Preschool Performance

End of the Year Preschool Performance

At the End of the Year Preschool Performance

At the End of the Year Preschool Performance

This week was the last week of school. The milestone of “the last day” was significant and difficult for me. My son wasn’t phased, but he was a very enthusiastic participant in picking out teacher gifts and delivering them with big smiles and equally big hugs.

Last Day of 3K

Last Day of 3K

This week was also the last week of his dance class and he had a dance recital. He was the only boy in the class, but he loved his dance teacher, dance class, and was very good at his dance routines. My phone didn’t capture much of that performance either (UGH) but I hope I always remember how proud he was of himself with his dance routine and the big smile he would bear when he glanced into the audience to see his Mommy and Daddy watching him.

Stretching before his dance recital

Stretching before his dance recital

The only boy in dance class. He rocked his dance recital.

The only boy in dance class. He rocked his dance recital.

I found something on Pinterest a while ago about the book “Oh The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. You buy the book and have all of your child’s teachers sign it from their first day of school through high school and you give it to them at high school graduation. When I presented them with teacher gifts this year I asked his teachers to sign the book and tracked down his teachers from last year so they could sign it also. Now I have it tucked away, ready for next spring and the next set of teachers in his life to sign a book that I will give to him the summer before he leaves for college.

The house that should have been quiet was still blossoming with activity as my husband and son entered into a tickling game at 9:00 at night. Usually one to lead the time-to-go-to-bed parade, this time I decided to watch and found myself laughing along as my boys tickled and my son’s screams of laughter and delight floated through the air.

The notebook his teachers had put together lay open on the coffee table in the living room. Consumed with the busyness that accompanies end of the year events, we hadn’t had time to watch the CD enclosed in the yellow paper case tucked into the inside pocket.

“Do you think that CD would play on your x-box?” I posed, looking for a way to transition to a quiet activity and satisfy my curiosity at once.

“Umm, maybe,” replied my husband, jumping up to try.

A few seconds later we were all greeted with full screen animation of a class picture and a title that read “Zany Zoo Three Year Old Class 2012-2013.” A press of the play button would reveal a slideshow set to the song “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” of all of the pictures the teachers had taken of the students throughout the year.

And then, finally, I found myself sobbing on the couch. Really sobbing in full ugly cry fashion.

“It’s ok, Mommy, don’t cry,” said my not-so-little-anymore boy as he tried to wipe away my tears. “Why are you crying, Mommy?”

It took me awhile to compose a sentence.

“Not so long ago, I was a teacher. At the end of the year I worked very hard to make a book for all of my students and I made a CD just like this with pictures and music for the Mommies and Daddies to have of their babies. And now I’m a Mommy of a sweet boy who is old enough to go to school and get CDs like this and I have been working on a book to give to you at your high school graduation. And that means that one day you are going to graduate high school and you’re just growing up so fast!”

I’m sure he stopped listening half way through. My husband gave me a bemused look. His hardness balances my mushy. We are the epitome of opposites attract.

I did find the strength to laugh at myself over my scene. “End of school years are always going to be hard for me. I am always going to be that Mommy that cries at the end of every school year. Get used to it people.”

My husband and son laughed and smiled. My foreshadowing of events came as a surprise to no one.

We were laughing again, though I don’t remember why, and finally began our ascent upstairs to bed.

How apt, I thought, that I just pondered when the last time was I gave myself permission to cry, and then I found tears releasing themselves during a preschool slideshow.

Funny how sometimes things work out exactly the way they are supposed to.

A popcicle treat after his end of the year picnic at preschool. He's growing up so fast!!

A popcicle treat after his end of the year picnic at preschool. He’s growing up so fast!!

 

* Linking up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop inspired by the prompt “5.) Pinterest Inspired! Share something you pinned and actually tried.” *

Growing Up and Getting Dressed

noah shoes

Today, I’m honored to be over at Moonfrye talking about a simple task, but an oh so important one; getting dressed.

It’s not as easy as you might think.

Join me as I talk about the push and pull of socks and shirts and the in between world of baby and big kid.

I can not wait to see you there!

 

Suddenly Overnight

It happened subtly and suddenly all the same.

Just as you notice leaves slowly coating the ground in the fall it is still a bit of a shock to notice bare branches out of the blue in the winter, as though it happened overnight.

I see him everyday. I am with him more than I am with anyone. I have an up front seat to his growth and development and changes and yet overnight, he grew up.

I was the mystery reader in my son’s three-year old class Tuesday, which meant I came into the classroom while the students were on the playground so that when they came in I was there as a surprise with a book to read.

I loved seeing my son’s face as he realized I was the mystery reader, and I loved getting to sit in the teacher’s chair with him as we read one of his favorite books, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late.”

On Tuesdays, his school offers an after school art class  The art teachers were setting up as I read the story. When it was over, I was expecting to take my son home, but instead, he said he wanted to stay for art class.

“Please Mommy! I want to take art! Will you sign me up for art class? Please?”

We had already missed the first few sessions in December since the holidays were so busy. The art teacher jumped in to say, “We can pro-rate the classes if you would still like to sign up.”

I felt torn and put on the spot, but how could I deny him an art class?

“Please Mommy? I will see you later ok?”

“Are you sure? You don’t want to come home with Mommy?”

“Nope,” he said casually as he took a seat at the art table. “I will see you later Mommy bye-bye.”

“Ok,”, I somewhat reluctantly agreed, “I love you!”

He smiled and blew me a kiss as I walked, dejectedly,  towards the door. His teacher said, “This is so good! This is really what you want! I know that’s not how you expected your afternoon to go.”

“I think I need him now more than he needs me,” I responded, realizing that this now, is the truth.

And so I left a very content and happy little boy at school while I made up something to do to fill another hour with out him.

Just like the leaves on the trees, I have noticed his growth every day. But now I feel bare like the winter branches, and it all happened suddenly overnight.

 

Turning Three: A Birthday Letter

My sweet boy,

The first year of life brings so many changes, but it has been this year between two and three that I have seen the most growth in you.

It has been this year, my sweet boy, that you have stopped nursing, have fully potty trained, and started sleeping in your own bed. (Some nights.)

It has been this year that you have stopped referring to yourself as “baby” and instead say “Noah.” You have even learned how to spell your name and proudly walk around saying “I am N-O-A-H Noah!” You have even learned to write the letters “O” and “H.”  My heart swells every time.

It has been this year you have decided you want to be a “digger man” when you grow up, and in the last few months you have changed your aspiring profession to “actor.” I will be proud of you no matter what you choose.

It has been this year that you have gone to your very first year of preschool, two mornings a week from 9 to 12. It was the very first time that you had ever been away from me, and though it was hard for both of us at first, we have both thrived with the expansion of your world.

It has been this year that I have seen you develop real relationships with your friends as you have moved from parallel play to interactive games.

It has been this year that you have mastered your motor skills. I’ve never been more proud of someone jumping in puddles or riding tricycles.

This year, you have established family roles. “Daddy is the cooker, Mommy is the cleaner, and I am the helper.” ~Noah summer 2012

Though you have always been a strong verbal speaker and communicator, this year your vocabulary has expanded and your thoughts are always expressed in complex sentences. I am often amazed at the way your mind works, and especially at the way you are able to tell me about it.

“Mommy, I have a story. Once upon time, there was a kitty cat and it got up up stuck on the roof. And the helicopter came and got the kitty cat and put it down. And then everybody was happy. The End.” 

“Wow, Noah, that was such a good story! It had a beginning, a middle, and an end. It also had a conflict and a resolution.” 

“Yes, Mommy, it did.” 

~August 2012

I love hearing your stories, your thoughts, and your opinions. I trust your judgement and often include you on family decisions. I want you to know that I value you, always.

It has been this year that I have seen you cross over from baby to boy, and this year that has challenged me the most as a parent. (So far.)

But it has been this year, my sweet boy, that I have delighted in your growth. As you continue to grow and branch out away from me, I want you to always know that I will never be too far away, standing in awe of wonderful YOU.

I love you forever and always, my sweet three-year-old baby boy.

Love,

Mommy

(meant to be published on your 3rd birthday, September 1st, 2012)

My sweet 3 year old boy

The First Birthday

As a countdown to my son’s third birthday party, I thought I would share the first two.

The first birthday was the hardest one for me. I was an emotional wreck with the realization that my son was turning one, and had an incredibly difficult time with the one year anniversary of my difficult birth experience.

To add to my emotional anxiety, we had also just moved to Richmond, VA when my son was 9 months old. As soon as I had unpacked boxes I was throwing a huge birthday party.

All of our family flew up from GA to celebrate the only grandchild on both sides’ first birthday. It was a huge milestone. My mom, brother, sister, and all of their significant others as well as my husband’s parents, two brothers, sister-in-law and grandmother were there. We piled 15 people into our newly bought house and admired our sweet little boy.

The grand celebration was a four-day affair of family visiting, but the actual celebration was taking place on the Saturday after he turned one. This turned out to be a very good thing since I spent most of the day of his actual birthday crying.

We enjoyed the company of family and suffered minimal drama, though there always seems to be some at large family gatherings.

And then on the morning of the day of his party, my little boy started having trouble breathing. My husband and I weren’t terribly worried, but as the day progressed and his condition didn’t, we decided to head to the emergency room.

While we endured our first emergency room visit with our little boy, a scary experience that resulted in a diagnosis of croup, a steroid shot, and a nebulizer treatment, our family used their nervous energy to decorate the house for the party. My father-in-law even mowed the lawn. It was incredibly sweet, and when we got home from the hospital we had a party celebrating the first year of our little boy’s life.

Baby to Boy and Mommy to Chair

Today was my son’s last day of his two day a week two-year-old class at preschool. Next year he will be moving up to three day three’s. I have been so pleased with his first school experience, and so amazed at his transformations this year.

When he started school in September he had just weaned from nursing and was still exclusively in our bed. He was still in diapers. He had a very limited vocabulary and had never been in anyone’s care besides my husband and I and very limited time with grandparents. He was still my baby.

As this school year ends, I see all of the changes he’s gone through this year. He is a very good eater with a large palate. His favorite food is broccoli. (That’s weird, right?) He is fully potty trained, even at night. We have been totally out of diapers and pull ups since February. He has a big boy bed, and now divides his time between his room and ours. It will not be too long until he’s sleeping in his big boy room all alone. His vocabulary is extensive and he is very verbal and articulate. His verbal skills are his greatest asset and his teachers say he is “advanced.” He is now comfortable under other’s care, and has thrived in the school setting, at a local play place, and has even had a babysitter come to the house and watch him. He is a boy.

The year between birth and age one is significant with so many fast changes. The year from age one to two was challenging for me in terms of his behavior; he hit his terrible twos early. This year, between age two and age three has been the most striking in terms of his development. It is amazing to see the transformation from baby to child in just one year.

Things have changed for me, too. I started his school year as a nervous first time parent. I was the room mother and attended parent council meetings, and developed some acquaintances. Through his transformation I have found my own, and have become a more confident and balanced parent. (Those two mornings alone a week have allowed me to regain some sanity.) Today, I was asked by the director of the pre-school to be the chair of parent council for next year. Apparently the current chairman, in coordination with my son’s teachers, recommended me.

I said yes. I’m honored to be thought of and to be establishing a community for myself as we all navigate our places in Richmond. I may be writing about how overwhelmed I am in the fall, but for right now I’m pretty excited about it.

So here I am being the mommy that I always wanted to be; the one that gets to stay home with her little boy and do things like bake cookies and have play dates at the playground and serve as chair of the parent council. It’s exciting.

But we all know (if you’ve read this blog at all) that my life is far from perfect. Being a stay at home mom who chairs the parent council won’t make it perfect, either. But it is the fulfillment of an image of what my mommy life could be like.

I can’t wait to see what happens during this next year of transformation.

(Also? I promise not to turn into one of those crazy parent council chair moms. I’ll try to be a cool one. And I’ll totally bake you some cookies.)

Just Like My Flowers

The light of the moon made its way into the bedroom as the toddler and I snuggled under the covers. Another day had faded away and my little boy and I cuddled up close as we settled into bed.

“Mommy?”

“Yes sweet boy.”

“Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

“My flowers are growing!”

“Your flowers are growing?”

“Yes! They are growing bigger and bigger!”

“Yes, they are growing bigger and bigger.”

“Am I growing bigger too?”

“Yes, you are growing bigger, too.”

“And stronger?”

“Yes, everyday you are growing bigger and bigger and stronger and stronger.”

“Uh-huh Mommy. Just like my flowers?”

“Just like your flowers.”

I could see him pondering. Satisfied, he cuddled up next to me and arranged himself to fit into the curve of my side.

I held him close and we both closed our eyes. I drifted to sleep listening to the beautiful sound of a toddler and his flowers growing in silence.