Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Zachary: 1 year old!

Dearest Zachary,

Today you turned one year old. ONE YEAR! My goodness how the past year just flew by! You started off a sweet, easy-going, happy baby. And now, you're a sweet, energetic, happy, Mama's BOY. You are an absolute joy to be around (most of the time :) and Daddy and I love you so, so very much. Ryan loves you too, even if  he does get easily frustrated when you want to play with his toys. You are a silly, fun-loving little boy who is the perfect addition to our family. It has been such fun to watch you grow over the past year.

You seem to do everything to extremes. You love fiercely, often giving hugs and sweet little pats spontaneously. You are an excellent snuggler. You cuddle into my shoulder--with your head turned sideways and your hand reaching for a handful of my hair or grabbing tightly onto my shirt--anytime you're tired or sad. And anytime you are feeling tired or sad there really isn't anywhere else you'd like to be than in my arms. This is sweet, and makes me feel very loved, but you do kinda take it to an extreme at times. Fortunately, you're starting to let Daddy comfort you more and more. Daddy has figured out your secret tickle spots and you love when he rubs your back and neck in all the right spots.

Speaking of being such a great snuggler, this has resulted in you being a pretty crummy sleeper. Well, you sleep great when attached to Mommy or Daddy. This has made Mommy and Daddy rather unproductive at night (and thus, I blame you for why I didn't write your 11 month post...I didn't have time because I was rocking you to sleep all the time!). Daddy and I plan to remedy this situation when we return from Great Wolf Lodge in a few weeks. So, you better enjoy all the extra snuggles, and night time nursing you're getting right now. It won't last forever! Operation "Get Zachary to sleep through the night, or at least sleep the whole night in his own crib" will commence on or around January 29th! You have been warned.

But other than your preference for sleeping nuzzled up to your favorite people, you are, like I said, an absolute joy. You are mischievous and playful. One of your favorite games is "chase" in which I crawl around the house (since I can crawl about as fast as you can run) and I say, "Mama's gonna get ya!!" and you try to run away, and hide around the corner, but then you see me peek out from the opposite corner and you laugh hysterically and run in the other direction. It is great fun and is often what Daddy finds us playing when he comes home after work. Usually, Ryan is riding around on his scooter helping with the chase while all this is going on. Life with two boys is busy!

You love to climb in, on, or over anything. If something can be used as a step, you will figure out how and do it. You love to climb the stairs and usually our gate is closed, but sometimes it doesn't lock by itself, and you always notice when this is the case. You get so excited when you realize its open and you immediately start heading up the stairs, hoping no one will notice. But, I do notice. And I say, "Zachary! Come back here! And you look back with an impish smile and clamor up the stairs even faster! One day, when I had just finished washing your hands in the kitchen sink, and was drying my own hands, I suddenly heard a CRASH followed by an "uh oh, Mama!" from Ryan. What I found was you, on top of the toilet! In about 15 seconds time you went in the bathroom (where Ryan had just finished and left the door open), climbed up the step stool, onto the toilet, and you were pulling all of the Kleenex out of the dispenser. Well, then the dispenser crashed to the ground, and it made a loud noise because it was ceramic. Once again, you had that impish little smile on your face when I found you.

While you don't have many words yet, you find ways to communicate what you want by pointing, shaking your head, waving, clapping, and yelling! You clearly watch everything we do and you're figuring out this world rather quickly. You try to use screw drivers correctly. You know exactly where to find the screw to change the batteries on a toy and try to put your toy (or sometimes a real one if we leave a tool box open) screw driver in there to open it. You know how to open and close most any drawer, door, or cabinet, even some that have child safety locks, you move your toy vacuum in the back and forth motion that you see Mama and Dada do. You play with legos, blocks, and trains with great dexterity because you watch your brother in everything he does. You want to stir any pot on the stove and you always want to "help" when Mama is making dinner. You're one, but you clearly think you're so much older than you are. I expect, being a second child, that this will be a theme throughout your life!

Eating is another extreme. You LOVE to nurse, and I'm pretty sure if I let you that's all you'd eat. You find most other food rather boring. But, you will sometimes eat cheese, apples, strawberries, peanut butter, Cheerios, yogurt, mango, pasta, occasionally chicken, and oranges. Note, there were no vegetables listed. Fortunately, you LOVE Daddy's smoothies (which always include spinach and/or Kale) and you will eat the baby food pouches with fruit/veggies mixed. Otherwise I would feel as if you were malnourished.  One of these days you will stop nursing, and your appetite will hopefully pick up. Though, I think you secretly know that as long as you're not eating well, I'm gonna be hesitant to wean. But, being a second time mom this time, I know it will all work out in the end and I'm trying not to worry about it too much. Along the line of extremes, you, like your Daddy, have a 6th sense for sweet things! Once, before you had ever even tasted a cookie, you practically lunged out of my arms to reach for a cookie I had put on the counter. How you knew it was delicious I don't know. But you knew, and you always know if there is something yummy around. You put your little hand out and scrunch it back and forth to say, "Give me some!!!" At your birthday party (see above) you did not disappoint when presented with your cake!

I've mentioned Ryan a few times, but he deserves his own paragraph. As I've said, he finds you a bit annoying at this age. But, you love him fiercely. You give him spontaneous hugs, especially in the morning when you go with me or Daddy to get him when he wakes up. You love to "dig" for him under the covers as he is hiding. You wrestle and build towers together. You play nicely in the bath tub. You're brothers, and you're friends and enemies simultaneously numerous times throughout each day. I expect it will be like this throughout much of your lives. But I know at the core of any disagreement is immense love, and that warms my heart tremendously.

You love your extended family members as well. Neenee is hands down your favorite, and PopPop comes in a close second. PopPop is the only person for whom you consistently will give a high five. Neenee and you love to play a game where you "bonk" heads gently. You smirk and giggle when she does this. Uncle John makes you laugh when he makes funny faces and sounds, and Uncle Mark gets right on your level and I'm pretty sure you think he's a kid too! Auntie Cindy and Auntie Catharine always makes you smile, and you love to watch Caitlin and Julia play. They love you too. Caitlin talks to you and is always so patient with you. Julia thinks pretty much anything you do is funny. You've enjoyed visits to CT and from your CT family to Maryland, and you're getting to know and love them as well.

Zachary Joe, you are my sweet baby boy, and I love you with my whole heart. I can't imagine our family without you. January 15, 2013 was a joyful, wonderful day, in which my heart grew exponentially. It is a day in which our family became more complete. It is a day I will never forget. Happy 1st Birthday, Sweet Boy!

Love always,


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ryan: 4 Years

Dear Ryan,

Today you turned 4 years old! I still remember the day you were born. It was the day you made me a Mama and it was truly one of the happiest days of my life (tied only with the day I married your Daddy, and the day Zachary was born). You've grown so much in the past four years. Sometimes its hard to believe you're already so old. And sometimes, those days of when you were a teeny, tiny baby seem like forever ago.
But, you're certainly not that teeny tiny baby any more. You're such a big boy now, and you've really grown in the past year. You became a big brother, you started pre-school, you went down the "big-drop slide" at Great Wolf, you can put your shoes on all by yourself, just to name a few of your big milestones and greatest moments of the past year. 

Speaking of becoming a big brother, you're a great big brother. But, as you like to say, "Having a baby brother is hard sometimes." Yes, it is hard sometimes, especially when Zach wants to play with your favorite toys. But Zachary watches everything you do, and he loves you so much, even if he annoys you sometimes. I know you love him so much, too. I can tell by the way you're always looking out for him, making sure he isn't putting things in his mouth that he shouldn't, or trying to catch him when he falls. You give him big hugs and you love to try and wrestle with him, even if he is still a bit too small for this. You always want to share food with him and when we stop at Dunkin' Donuts and I ask if you want a munchkin you always say, "I want two. One for me, and one for Zachary." Throughout your life you and Zachary are going to annoy each other. You're going to get frustrated. You're going to say mean things sometimes. But I hope you always cherish the special relationship you share as brothers. It is a relationship unlike any other you will ever have in your life and I hope you one day recognize it as the greatest gift Daddy and I ever gave you. 

This year was a huge year also because you started pre-school. On your first day you went with no problem at all. Daddy joined you and you were as happy as a clam. But, for the next few weeks after that you had a bit of a rough time. No matter how much fun you had, or how much you told me you liked your teacher, Mrs. Hammer, you still sobbed every day that you went. You said ridiculously cute and sad things like, "I like school, but I just love you soooooo much!" or "I just wanna stay home with you and Zachary. I don't need to go to school." But as much as you cried, you still always knew you had to go. And you didn't fight it. You were just really sad about it. But then, after a couple weeks, you stopped crying, and you just got excited about school every Tuesday and Thursday. You love the arts and crafts you do. You report holding hands and sitting next to your buddy Rosalind almost daily, and you beam with pride when you sing a new song you learned. Daddy and I are so proud of you. We hope this first year of pre-school instills in you a love of learning that will last a lifetime. 

Other high-lights of the year were our family vacation to Great Wolf Lodge and Sky Top Lodge in the Poconos, going to the Howard County fair with Uncle Chris and Saoirse, Family parties with your best buddies (and cousins) Caitlin & Julia, Autine Cindy, Uncle John, Auntie Catharine, Uncle Mark, NeeNee & Pop-Pop, the Pumpkin Festival at Butler's Orchard, trick-or-treating as Peso from Octonauts, going to the train garden at Homestead Gardens, and of course Christmas! You find such joy and excitement in relatively simple adventures. You love being with the people you love and doing fun things. You talk about each of these "high-lights" with such enthusiasm and excitement that it's contagious. You have a joyful spirit that makes doing anything with you a tremendously fun and memorable experience. 

Ryan, you are a kind, sensitive, honest, smart, loving, enthusiastic, inquisitive, and out-going little boy. You observe the world with such a keen eye and ask excellent questions. You find joy in such simple pleasures. One day while riding with me to my office, which required driving in a part of Baltimore you had never seen before you said, "Wow! Everything in Baltimore is AWESOME!" Coming down MLK Blvd, seeing the stadiums, the round house in the distance, and Mommy's office was pretty awesome. I'd never appreciated it in that way before. Ryan, you open my eyes to the world in a way that makes each day happier and more full of joy. You make me a better person and kinder soul. 

Thank you Ryan for being my son, for sharing your joy, your hugs (you give the BEST Monkey hugs!), and your love with me. Being your Mama is a privilege and one I will never take for granted. 

Happy 4th birthday, sweet boy! 

Love always, 


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