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The Monthly Letters

Benjamin: Month 3

Ben-

Today you are 3 months old! This has been a really great month. Your personality has begun to shine through the newborn clouds and I feel like we know you now. We know what you really do and don’t like and I can make you smile in a millisecond. And you have THE BEST smile. Don’t tell your brothers, but you have the best baby smile of the bunch.

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It was a month of firsts for you. You went to your first wedding, you had your first Halloween (you were a skeleton!), first trip to Disneyland, you were left with someone else for a few hours for the first time (so your mom and dad could see Hamilton!) and you had your first day of daycare. It was really an impressive month. And you smiled through most of it.

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When you werent smiling it was usually because your belly was hurting. We learned last month that you have a cow’s milk protein intolerance, but we added probable peanut allergy, allergic colitis and reflux to the list this month. We got you started on some medication and it has greatly improved things after a couple of rough weeks. Hopefully this will be it, we will keep you comfortable and you’ll outgrow all this stuff in the next few months.

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This month you and your brothers have become good buddies. They love to make you smile anytime they can. William loves to hold your hands and Elijah has become the pacifier master in the car, much to everyone’s delight. They especially love to do tummy time with you and you enjoy the distraction too. I cannot tell you how much my heart swells watching the three of you together.

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Your likes this month include: mom, dad and brothers, pacifiers sometimes, any blanket or cloth you can get your hands on and especially if you can pull it up to your face to try to smother yourself, any person who smiles at you, when your dad sings Les Miserables to you, baths.

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Your dislikes this month include: the car, pacifiers some of the time, bottles (though you’re not super dramatic about it, more like, it’s cool, I’ll starve until my mom comes back), when you are stuck in the car and really want to eat but your brothers have to go somewhere and kindergarten/work start times that require you to get up before you are inclined to do so.

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Going back to work was as heartbreaking as I knew it would be. I no longer get to devote all my time to bond with you, which has been such a privilege. I’m extremely fortunate to get to work part time, though my days off are packed with kids and activities, so it’s not quite the same as our quiet Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays these past twelve weeks. I know we will have some sick days coming soon, which will stink for you, but I won’t turn down the quiet and snuggles we will get.

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The daycare teachers have all commented on how lovely your disposition is. You are as pleasant for them as for us and they enjoy having you a lot. Other classroom teachers have stopped me in the hallway to tell me how cute and/or sweet you are, which is pretty great. I know you’re being well cared for and that is the most important thing.

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These three months have not gone as quickly as I imagined they would, but you are growing so much more quickly than I am prepared for. You’re my last baby and I know that no matter how slowly time passes, it will be too fast. That too soon you’ll be walking and talking and no longer a baby, my last baby. It breaks my heart but I also know how much fun you’ll be as you grow and that helps me let go.

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Above all else, you are deeply loved. And while time can slow its pace down any time now, I can’t wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom

Benjamin: Month 2

Ben-

Today you are two months old! It never fails to amaze me how different a baby is at 2 months than at 1 month. You still don’t do much except grow, but you have a personality and clear likes and dislikes and much improved ways of demonstrating the former.

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I’m talking about your smile, if that wasn’t obvious. It’s magnificent. Your whole sweet face lights up and usually it comes with the sweetest little coo ever. Lately your dad is the most frequent recipient of the smile and sometimes all he has to do is talk to you from across the room for you to light up. I cannot tell you how great your smile is. I really can’t. It’s just the absolute best.

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You have no idea how loved you are and by how many people. Your brothers, especially William is just overcome with his love for you literally every day. Elijah loves you deeply as well, but he’s busier and less free with this expressions of it. You got to meet your extended family (on my side) earlier this month and it’s safe to say that the circle of people who loves you is wider than you can imagine.

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You continue to be an eater, gaining about a pound a week right now. You’re sleeping more and for longer periods at a time, but you still prefer to eat about every 2 hours when you’re awake. You pretty much only cry when you’re hungry or overtired and the solution to both is usually nursing. And I’m not complaining because I get all the snuggles. And because your thighs are magnificent.

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To me, you now seem so big. No longer that tiny fragile newborn that you were, but a sturdy baby with questionable head control. Putting away all the newborn clothes made me cry because this was their final use and I’m not ready for my last baby to be grown. I suspect this will be a common emotion I have as you grow. I’ll do my best to not let it hold you back, but I make no promises.

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Your likes this month include mom, dad, William, Elijah, nursing, being held for naps, nursing, the mirror on your playmat, pacifiers but ONLY in the car seat, and when anyone sings to you, but especially when your dad sings Les Miserables to you.

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Your dislikes this month include riding in the car, especially if the car dares to stop moving momentarily, baths when you’re overtired, not being allowed to eat the moment you want to, when your mother attempts to set you down instead of holding you when you’re sleepy.

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There are days where I kind of wish you could be put down more, but then I look at you and remember how small this window of time is. This window where you want to be held, where I am your home base, your safe place. And I know that there will be time for cleaning and for cooking and for the other errands that need to be run. But there won’t always be a baby who wants to be snuggled, who sleeps best on my chest or in my arms. Who wants to nurse themselves into sleep right where they are.

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I came across a poem a few weeks ago called Babies Don’t Keep by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton that perfectly captured this feeling. The final stanza reads,

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

These are the words I’m living by right now. The house is messy. Our meals aren’t perfectly complete or always the healthiest. But you are only going to be small for this moment and a few after and I’d rather be holding you, just like I held your brothers, than doing anything else. The rest can wait, because you, your babyhood, cannot.

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Each day I’m grateful for you, that you are here, that you are ours. I am wistful about how quickly you’re growing, but it doesn’t diminish, at all, the deep and endless love I have for you. I hope you know now and forever how deeply loved you are.

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Happy 2 months, baby boy. We love you so much and can’t wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom

Benjamin: Month 1

Ben-

Today you are 1 month old! I’ll probably say this many times in the future, but this has been both a long and a very short month. I can’t believe my last baby isn’t a newborn anymore, but your birth also feels like a light year ago. Time is very strange that way.

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We are still getting to know you and every time I think we’ve got you figured out, you change things up. It certainly keeps life exciting.

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You still have your gorgeous soft baby hair, which strangers comment on all the time. But you are no longer a teeny tiny guy like you were at birth, now you have cheeks and chunk to spare. A mom of a kid in Elijah’s class stopped me today to comment on how much you’ve grown in just two and a half weeks. She’s not wrong.

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The cheeks are abundant because you are a nursing addict. I’m typing this with one hand on my phone because you will only stop crying tonight when you’re eating, which is a pretty common occurrence. Thankfully you have a great latch and we’ve had a lot of help because nursing all day does not lend itself to multitasking very well.

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You have the sweetest eyes in the world and I swear you see more than every textbook says you can. Even before you should have been able to see basically anything, you would look at us with such focus, like lock eyes with us. It was like you might start a conversation at any moment. There’s something about you that I just can’t put my finger on. You even looked me in the eyes and smiled right at me last week, even though you shouldn’t be socially smiling for another few weeks.

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Your likes this month include: nursing, being held, nursing, overhead lighting and/or fans, being held, nursing.

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Your dislikes include: car rides, baths, pacifiers (unless you’re super tired), being swaddled, being put down.

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For a lot of this month, it’s just been you and me. First because we were both recovering from your birth. Then because your brothers went back to school and your dad went back to work. You’re just my tiny buddy- you go everywhere with me and I love nothing more in this world than snuggling with you. It might seem like I wish you’d nurse less, but the truth is I’m more than happy to feed and hold you every moment I can. During the day especially.

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The time is going so fast already and I know in a few short months, these snuggles will be replaced with proper naps and reasonable bedtimes and while I won’t miss the intensity of the sleep deprivation, I’ll miss having my snuggle buddy.

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I’m so excited to get to know you and to learn who you are. We’ve waited a long time for you and we’re so glad that you completed our family. We love you in a way that defies words, in a way that someday you will know when you have your own baby and you realize how inadequate words are for describing this kind of love.

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Happy 1 month, my sweet baby. We love you so very much and can’t wait to see what next month will bring.

Love,
Mom

William: Year 3

Will-

Today you are three years old! I will not pretend for one second like I can’t believe it because honestly it feels like you’ve been two for much longer than a year (not because of behavior, just, this has been the longest year ever) and you are so perfectly 3.

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This year has been a big one. You started preschool at Elijah’s school, we moved to a new house and a few days ago you became a big brother after months of anticipation. You have changed so much from last year that when a video popped up I was sure they had mislabeled it 1 year ago when it was really two. But nope. You’ve grown almost an unbelievable amount.

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You are smart. Like super clever, tricky and difficult smart. The other day I was helping you into a pull up and you were intentionally lifting the wrong leg for the leg hole I had open for you. After 10 times or giving me the wrong leg and laughing maniacally, I turned the pull up around, you flashed a grin and lifted the other leg. This is classic William. We laugh with you every single day.

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You are the sweetest little boy when it comes to small things. You adore small stuffed animals and care for them so tenderly. When you met your baby brother in the hospital you just wanted to pet him and immediately told me that you loved him and that he was SO cute. It’s one of my favorite things about you- for as strong willed as you can be, you’re also extremely kind hearted.

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You do continue the streak of strong willed behavior. We potty trained you in May, which was not great. You were acing pee and doing okay at school and then one day you were just done. You decided you would not be peeing at school with any teacher no matter what and so far you’ve been true to your word. We tried to tell you that all your friends are moving to a new class and you can’t move until you pee in the potty at school and you shrugged and said, “I don’t want friends.” I mean, how am I supposed to respond to that?

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Your likes right now include: puzzles, PB&J, dinosaur chicken nuggets, Wild Kratts, The Lion King (especially Hakuna Matata, which you sing allllll the time), Aladdin, Elijah, baby brother, mom, dad, Ritz crackers, yelling “no! never!” whenever I ask you to do things.

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Your dislikes include: pretty much any food other than PB&J, Dino chicken and ritz crackers, napping, rear facing in the car, when Elijah very intentionally does things to make you mad, stopping what you’re doing to pee, anything you don’t explicitly choose for yourself.

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This year has had its ups and downs and there have been points where I have felt totally out of my parenting league when it comes to raising you. But we made it and we’re both better for it. Your passions continue to run deep and it’s not a thing I want to change. I love that you have strong emotions. I love that you know what you want. I don’t think these are bad things and with a lot of effort on your part and ours, I think we’ve been able to encourage and harness your passions.

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I want, above all else, for you to be whoever and whatever you dream of being. I want you to use the passion you have to take you somewhere great in this life, to do something that matters. I can see a spark in you that burns brightly and I know it will lead to amazing things down the road. We’ve only begun to learn about what you have planned and I am so glad to be along for the ride.

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It would be impossible to tell you how much I love you because words cannot describe such a tremendous thing, but know that I could not be who I am without you and that every day is better for having you in it. No one is as fortunate as me, because I get to be your mom and there’s just absolutely nothing better.

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Happiest of birthdays, son. I love you so very much and cannot wait to see what next year brings.

Love,
Mom

Elijah: Year 5

Elijah-

Today you are 5 years old! You have been counting down the days until your birthday for weeks now, convinced that overnight you would grow several inches and be as tall as your other friends who are 5. While that was a bit of a let down, it didn’t stop you for long, which is pretty much the best way to describe who you are right now.

You are a delight. Truly, age 4 has been the promised land that everyone said it was. And you were a very easy 2 and 3 year old, but age 4 has just been the best. I have enjoyed every moment of it.

You came out of your shell in a huge way this year. You basically speak in exclamation points and are not the least bit hesitant to share random facts with complete strangers. You want to tell me every fact you know and correct every fact you perceive to be incorrect. “Actually” has become one of your favorite words, much to my not so great delight. There are times where you and I will be having a serious talk about a behavior that wasn’t okay or a choice you shouldn’t have made and I’ll ask you if you understand and you will affirm that you do and then immediately say something like, “did you know that rolly pollies are like trilobites?” like that’s exactly what we were discussing.

You have come to LOVE art this year. This surprised me because last year in school, you did the bare minimum, never really attempting to draw or write anything that wasn’t expressly requested of you, but you have more than made up for that this year. Every Friday when I pick you up from school, there is a massive pile of papers that you have colored throughout the week. Not like coordinated art projects, like, in aftercare when you get to choose your own adventure, you almost always choose to draw. One day a few months ago, I was laying on the couch feeling completely terrible with a migraine. It was your quiet rest time and you crept quietly into the living room and laid a paper on my stomach saying, “mom, I know your head hurts, so I made you these cheetahs.” The picture is now framed on a wall because I treasure it so entirely.

One of the things I love the very most about you is that you are an eternal optimist. Even when our plans aren’t what you want, you are constantly finding ways to make them better. You will often suggest a completely implausible thing for us to do and immediately follow it with, “is that a great idea mom?” Like every kid you get disappointed, and you continue to be sweet and sensitive, but you have a way to finding a bright side when I don’t expect it.

We registered you for kindergarten this winter and you will start in August. We don’t know what school you’ll be at yet, but your preschool teacher feels very certain that you’re ready. I might not be, but you are. I picked up some early reading books and you have astounded me with your ability to sound out words and read short books. It’s not that I doubted you, it’s that this just sort of snuck up on me. I don’t know the first thing about teaching a kid to read, so that you’re already figuring so much of it out, is completely incredible to me.

Your likes include: the color red, chocolate chip cookies (your favorite food according to you today), all animals except skunks, museums, your brother (most of the time), your family, any carbohydrate based food, school, reading, coloring, swimming, baking with me, baseball, tv and being outside.

Your dislikes include: just about any food with protein, the colors pink and purple, skunks (though you’ve never seen one), taking “taste bites” of any vaguely new food, when William knocks you over or steals your paper or does any of the 480249209 different things he loves to do to bother you, that we don’t allow you to say the word butt.

There are a lot of things you’re looking forward to this year, and I am too. The start of kindergarten. A new baby brother. Life in our “new” house. But what I am most looking forward to is really getting to know you. To learn what makes you different from every other 5 year old. To find out what makes you tick, to find out the kind of person you will become.

There are days where the responsibility of raising good men in you and your brothers feels overwhelming. But I see you, I see your sweet, pure, loving heart and I know that the good person I want to raise is already there. You are one of the kindest, most sensitive young boys I have ever met. Your ability to love and to be happy and to choose kindness, never fails to amaze me. Your brother will knock you down 10 times and each time, you will refuse to retaliate. Your friends will tell you that they don’t want to play with you (for typical 5 year old reasons), but you do not throw the same words back at them. While I would like to pretend that I am the reason for this, I know that I’m not. It’s who you are, at your very core. I didn’t mold that, but I am in constant awe of it and I hope in my heart of hearts, that it never changes. That you forever find ways to choose kindness, even when it may not be the easiest choice.

I didn’t think I’d have so many feelings about my first baby turning 5, but I do. You are growing up so very fast and where there was a baby and then a toddler, there is now a little boy. A little boy that I love so much that words to describe it fail me completely. I am constantly amazed that I am the one single person in this world who gets to be your mother, because it almost seems impossible that I’d get that lucky.

I have loved you since the moment I knew you existed and nothing you could ever do will change that. I am grateful every single day that you’re mine. I love you to the moon and back, my sweet boy.

Love,
Mom

William: Year 2

Will-

Today you are 2 years old. My baby. My sweet tiny boy. I cannot believe it. It has gone so fast and suddenly here we are. Two.

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You are loved far and wide and proclaimed by all as the sweetest little boy. And it’s true. You have the gentlest, sweetest heart. You love to snuggle and hug and you would love nothing more in this world than to sleep in my bed every day of your life. You are my tiny buddy and though you have a big personality, you’re also sensitive and cautious and it’s easy to forget that because of your tendency to slip into toddler hysteria from time to time (time being a word for minute).

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You are also just the chattiest. I mean it. You are still a little tough to understand, but you have SO much to say. You regularly confuse strangers with 5-6 word sentences. Your daycare teachers are always astounded at what you say to me at pick up because we have full conversations about your day. You are so very bright and I’m almost afraid of all the things you’ll learn this year. Your capacity for mischief seems pretty large.

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You love your brother so fiercely that it overwhelms you at times and frustrates him as well. You think he is the coolest and later this month you’ll start preschool (WHY TIME, WHY?) and get to go to his school, too. I think you’re going to like it and I think having your big brother around is probably the best bonus for you.

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Your likes this month include: Mommy, Daddy, Eyijah, Thomas the Tank Engine and his pal Percy, Toy Story (the obsession. It is a thing.), the cats, bubbles, your grandparents, buckling your car seat buckle (except, funny story, you can’t say k sounds, so you always yell “I DO MY BUTOLE!” and say that several times out loud quickly and you will understand why we die laughing every time we get in the car. You parents are not mature.), pouches, chocolate milk in a cup (never a box, always a cup), having us drape your blanket on you for sleeping, sliding things down your brother’s car ramp.

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Your dislikes this month include: being told no, not getting something you want, walking (“me me up, mom!”) any distance greater than about a foot, when your brother “trades” toys with you, eating (generally), fruit, vegetables, naps, being told to do something you don’t want to do (basically, not being in charge).

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The past month you have really changed from a baby to a boy. You participate with others, you seem to understand bigger things more than before. I can see the wheels in your head turning, see you solving problems and making connections. You are a lot like me, both as a child and now. You’re easily frustrated and I can see you trying so hard to do things or fix things, but your emotions are just big. They’re just bigger than your sweet tiny body right now.

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I am anticipating that this next year will be a tough one, even tougher than last year. You are desperately searching for boundaries and I’m trying my best to stay patient and calm while you struggle to understand the world around you. I adore you, even on your most difficult and scream filled days, I love you in ways that would be completely impossible to explain. I remember every moment of your life, the way it felt like my heart would explode with joy the first time I held you. The way I feel each night when I tuck you into bed.

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You are my second baby, my second toddler, but you hold such a piece of my heart that you would never know you didn’t come first. You are not without struggles, but these struggles are more than worth it for all the sweet moments and abudant love you bring us. I feel lucky every day that of all the moms, I get to be yours. That I get to help you grow into a child and a man, that I get to be your cheerleader and your teacher. That I get a front row seat to all the amazing things you’re going to do in your life.

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Please know that whatever next month and next year bring, my love for you, my sweet little love, is eternal. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do in this life, my love is constant, and you can rely on it whenever you need to.

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Month 24

Happy birthday, my sweet little William. I love you to heights that words cannot reach, in ways that sentences will never adequately describe. I am truly the luckiest because I am your mom.

Love,
Mom

William: Month 23

Will-

Today you are 23 months old. Please know that I’ve never told anyone that you are 23 months old because that’s the kind of age specificity that crazy people use. You are almost 2. Every time I say it my heart breaks a tiny bit because there it is, there’s the end of babyhood. It’s 1 month away.

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Unlike most months, I picked out pictures for this post before I wrote it (my computer had issues) and what I noticed was how many happy pictures we took this month. You were sick once for a few days and that was miserable, but otherwise, we had a great month. We had a ton of family time, which you (and I) love, we celebrated the 4th of July and we started a swim class (well, two swim classes, but that’s a long story).

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Your personality is changing more and more each day. You are becoming less persistently upset and much more independent. You still get frustrated when things don’t go the way you want them to or when you can’t have the exact thing you want, but you are so much slower to get upset. It is a relief, let me tell you. Your speech has improved a bit this month, which I think is helping, and you are receiving speech therapy now, and I think in a few weeks/months this is likely to improve even more.

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Your newest phrases are “I do it myself” and “Weenum (which is what you call yourself and it’s THE BEST) hurt” whenever you have even the slightest discomfort. If you report pain and I ask you where it is you’ll just look at me and go “On Weenum!” like that answers the question. While it’s not very helpful, I secretly hope you never learn how to say William because I think Weenum might be the cutest nickname ever.

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Your likes this month include: your brother, mom, dad, the kitties (much to their frustration), swimming (as long as you get to do what you want), cars, Toy Story, grandparents, Aunt Claire/Uncle Scott, Addie and baby Asher, Thomas the Tank Engine, rice and beans, and Mr. Potato Head.

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Your dislikes this month include: having restricted access to the ipad/phones, not being able to watch Toy Story all day every day, not being able to wear only Toy Story shirts, wearing shoes for almost any duration of time, when the kitties run away from you, wearing a diaper.

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I cannot believe you’re going to be 2. I mean, I can because you already are basically a professional 2 year old, but I can’t believe you’ve been here for almost 2 years. You are suddenly this big kid and you’re starting to engage even more with your brother and with Addie. You follow them everywhere and try so hard to do what they’re doing. Often this ends in disaster because you’re a tiny little bull in a china shop, but it’s always very cute before the big kids get frustrated with you.

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You are the sweetest, snuggliest little boy. You are excitable in the most delightful ways and you speak with exclamation points punctuating almost every word. You have big feelings and you are learning more and more how to tell us about them. You remind me so much of myself and the memories I have from when I was a preschool/elementary aged child and I can only hope that I’m giving you the same love and boundaries that my parents gave me to help me learn to manage the magnitude of my emotions. I know that as you transition from a baby to a toddler, like, full-fledged toddler, there will be a lot of bittersweet moments, but I’m just so excited to get to meet the kid you’re becoming. You are not always easy, but you are always, always worth the work.

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It would be impossible to tell you how much I love you because just like how you have big emotions, this is a big feeling for me. It defies explanation, but I will say that my favorite time of day is when you first get up because you want to snuggle on the couch and you just melt into me. And if you knew me 5 years ago you would understand how insane it is that I am actually enjoying anything at 6:15 in the morning. I know that someday you won’t want those snuggles, and so each day I savor those moments, just in case tomorrow is the day you’re too big for it.

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There is much on the horizon for you, my sweet boy. I’m so excited that I get to go along for the ride. We love you so very much and can’t wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom

William: Month 22

Will-

Today you are 22 months old. Lest you are worried, when people ask how old you are, I do not say 22 months. I either say 1 and a half or that you’ll be 2 in June. I’m only listing months here because that’s what I’ve always done. But regardless, I cannot believe how close you are to 2 years old. It just seems completely impossible.

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This month I accomplished the seemingly impossible- I weaned you. I went out of town on my birthday for 4 days and that was it. The last time you nursed was May 18th and while you have protested several times, including once today, but mostly it was about as smooth of a transition as I can possibly imagine it being. If we’re being perfectly honest, I equally love having my personal space back and also totally miss the connection we had. I miss our lazy mornings in bed and snuggly post-nap couch cuddles. I know it was time and that you’re fine and I’m fine, but I miss it and I know you do too. I’m not sure either of us are ready for you to be so grown.

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Your hearing is definitely markedly improved this month, though your speech continues to be a bit of a struggle. You have so many things you want to say and you think you’re saying them, but so much of it is unintelligible. At least once a day you just completely break down crying because we can’t understand you. It’s sad for you and sad for us. You have a speech therapy evaluation scheduled next week, so hopefully a few sessions of that will help. I know it’s all from the persistent fluid in your ears and that you will catch up and be fine, but we’ve given it 6 weeks now and it’s just not improving quite enough, so we are ready to help you be heard a little more clearly.

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This month took a major downward turn when you got hand, foot and mouth disease. It was going around your daycare (I believe everyone in your class got it) and you were sadly not spared. You managed to run a nearly 105 degree fever (with Motrin!) before the blisters showed up all over your poor feet and mouth. Your hands were mostly spared, but it was a full week before you could wear shoes again. I cannot say how glad I am to have that over with.

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Your likes this month include: Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Rex, Elmo, Cookie Monster (who you call may-may…), mom, dad, Ijah, the cats, nursing (or you liked it, at least), playing on the iPad, veggie chips, pirate’s booty, pouches, having mom or dad sleep in your bed, chocolate milk, screaming as loudly as you can for no apparent reason, taking off all your clothes and your diaper (and usually peeing on the floor).

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Your dislikes this month include: hand, foot and mouth, sleeping alone, the bunny clock (that tells you when you can wake up for the day), weaning, sleeping past 5:30am, napping, when your parents can’t understand what you’re saying.

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We got a kitten this month and you are simply the sweetest with her. I mean, you completely terrify her because you do not possess the ability to be quiet, but you just look at her and go “awwwww” and gently rest your head on her. It’s just about the sweetest thing.

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And it’s really who you are. You are such a sweet little boy. You love to be snuggled and cuddled, especially on the couch. You just wiggle your little butt right into the crooks of our arms and it’s the best. You want us to sleep in your bed with you. You just, you’re a lover in a way your brother never was and it is really, really sweet.

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The fact that you’re nearly two years old is just practically mind boggling to me. You’re going to start preschool in a few months and before I know it you’ll be potty trained and speaking in paragraphs and I just can’t deal with it. The time has gone just so, so very fast and you’re grown right before my eyes. You are definitely still more petite than your peers, but I see you lengthening out all the time.

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I wish I had more to add this month, but between my being out of town and you being sick, it was kind of a whirlwind. We just absolutely adore you. You light up our lives and make every day more interesting. We love you so dearly and despite wanting time to screech to a halt, I just can’t wait to see the person you’re going to become.

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I love you to the ends of the earth and back. And I can’t wait to see what next month brings.

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Love,
Mom

William: Month 21

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Today you are 21 months old. My mind boggles at how close you are to being 2 years old. I think in part it’s because of your size- you are super petite, but also because you’re my baby and babies aren’t almost 2. I looked at you this morning, clad only in your diaper, and for the first time in your whole life, you looked tall. Like overnight you grew these long, lean legs that looked remarkably like the legs of a little boy and not like the short little legs of my baby.

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This was a very busy month. We visited all your grandparents twice, which involved a lot of travel and you had your first (and hopefully only) surgery. Your demeanor continues to improve in general, which is great because a few months ago, the number of hours we spent in the car this month would’ve been nearly impossible to manage, but you were a total trooper.

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The ear tube experience was a lot for all of us. First you went with your dad for an audiogram that found that you had mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears, which was a big punch to my gut. The surgery itself was easy and quick, though the few days after were a lot tougher than I expected. Now that we’re almost two weeks out, you seem happier and you’re sleeping much better. I’m hopeful that this is a huge turning point for you and so far we are very pleased. It was a sort of easy decision, but at the same time, we worried it would be a lot of discomfort for no real improvement. I hope this was the right call.

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You continue to be extremely talkative, but as you’d expect of someone with hearing loss, you are very hard to understand. I can understand or decipher about 50% of what you say these days, people who don’t know you can get about 20%. We expect this to improve but I’m just glad it hasn’t slowed you down. If we’re being honest, I’m going to be kind of sad when you stop calling Elijah “I-yuh” and dinosaurs “dido-roars.” You have also not let poor hearing interfere with your singing. You sing the ABCs, you sing the Baby Bumblebee song and you sing Old MacDonald, kind of. All of these are the Will remixes, but they’re adorable nevertheless.

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Your likes this month include: your family, most especially your brother, music and singing, rice and beans, Thomas the Tank Engine, Dinosaur Train, dinosaurs in general, closing doors, naked baby time and doing things all by yourself.

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Your dislikes this month include: being told no, help, fruit that isn’t puréed, vegetables, being left out of anything and ear drops.

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In three days we are going to be finished nursing. I never planned to nurse this long in the first place and so I also never expected weaning to be so fraught with feelings. There are a lot of things I will not miss (mostly you trying to rip out my earrings or smacking me in the face repeatedly) but I will miss snuggling with you and feeling your body relax into mine. I will miss your little happy dance when I lay you on your side. I will miss the bond that nursing has given us and the ability to soothe you even in your least soothable moments. It has been quite a ride. But it’s time. For both of us. I’m going away for a few days this week and the time is right for a whole host of reasons.

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If I’m being honest, I don’t really want to go on this trip at all, but I’m trying to make sure I have time for my personal and professional life because I think ultimately it makes me a better parent. I will miss you in ways that don’t seem at all reasonable but I think that’s just the way it is with feelings. You are such a part of me, my tiny little sidekick, that the idea of 4 nights away from you feels almost impossible.

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There are a lot of changes on the horizon for both of us. I want to slow down time and savor these last few months before two, but time is cruel that way, so I will just have to make sure I get the most out of these precious moments, for both of us.

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I love you more than words can possibly explain. And I can’t wait to see what this month brings.

Love,
Mom

Elijah: Year 4

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Today you are four years old. I imagine that someday when you read these you will think I am kind of trite for starting each letter by saying that I cannot believe you are already so old, but each year it will be true. I cannot, no matter how far I stretch my mind, believe that you are already four. It seems impossible because you were just born, I could swear it.

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This year has been an interesting one, for sure. You were a really…mild 2 year old and so it’s only natural that you found your voice and learned to use it this year. Often at very high volumes and in very public places. But even in your worst days, and there were some, for sure, you are still a pretty spectacularly great 3 year old.

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This year you made real friendships for the first time. You have a best friend at school that you absolutely adore and who adores you back. You both had birthday parties in the past month and we were the first to RSVP for his party and they were the first to RSVP for yours. You also adore your cousin Addie and you guys play (and fight) like siblings more than like cousins.

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You are a very smart and very observant 4 year old. I mean that very sincerely, not in the way that every mother says their child is smart because they’re their child. You learn new things literally every day, though admittedly sometimes the message gets a little lost, or altered, in translation. You know that caterpillars become a chrysalis and then a butterfly, but you also think that caterpillars are called “callerpitters.” You asked me last week for some “mennonites” instead of vitamins and you still, delightfully, call flip flops “clip clops.” They are the last few vestiges of toddlerhood and I am clinging to them like a security blanket. The first person who corrects you is going to get a very large piece of my mind.

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You are developing a great sense of humor and also a desire to be the center of attention, particularly in a class clownish capacity. At your last baseball game, four of your grandparents, an aunt and two cousins came to watch you, and boy did you put on a show. You spun around and danced and had the whole crowd laughing with/at you. You just love to make people laugh, which is a quality you get directly from your father.

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This is especially true with William. He is a tough kid and doesn’t always laugh a lot, but all it takes is one look, maybe one syllable, from you and he is giggling maniacally.

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You told me yesterday that you want another brother and a sister, and watching you with William and now with baby Asher, it’s clear that you are a natural older brother. I can’t promise more siblings, or the distribution of gender that you’ve requested, but I hope to watch you grow and blossom as the oldest child. Your sibling, and maybe future siblings, are very fortunate to have you as their first role model and friend.

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Your likes this year include (per the scientific interview I conducted this evening):
Favorite color: red (and orange and yellow)
Favorite food: candy
Best friend: Immanuel
Favorite thing to play with: dinosaurs
Favorite tv show: Kungfu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, Thomas the Tank Engine (but only the new videos where Thomas is animated and actually talks, not the ones where he just moves his eyes around- this is a very important distinction), Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Dinosaur Train
Favorite movie: Star Wars (the very original one)
Favorite book: The Very Hungry Calerpitter (Caterpillar)

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Your dislikes this year include: any food that is in anyway unfamiliar (you are unbelievably picky. Please tell me that when you are 20 and reading this that you eat more than cheese-less pizza, spaghetti with marinara and jelly sandwiches), hand dryers in public bathrooms, rest time.

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I can’t say enough how much it is a privilege to be your mom. You are the sweetest boy. You tell us daily that you love us and I hope that’s because we’ve said it enough to you. My favorite time of day is just before bed when you decide how many hugs and kisses we get. It varies wildly, somedays being 11 hugs and 11 kisses, while other days it’s 1 hug and 1 kiss. But regardless of the number, there is nothing better than having your lanky arms wrapped around me and breathing in your sweet scent.

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It would be impossible to put into words how very much I love you. Raising you has not been easy and I don’t do it all right, not by a long shot, but each day that I get to get up and try again, is a luxury. Each day that I get to tell you how much I love you and hug you and kiss you, is my greatest fortune. I am happier and better in just about every way for having you in my life. I scarcely know who I am without you because you have changed me to my very core in the very best of ways.

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I hope that you know how fiercely you are loved and how grateful we feel to be the ones loving you. You are growing into such an incredible boy and we just cannot wait to see the kid and man you become.

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Happy birthday my sweet, sweet boy. We love you so very much and cannot wait to see what next year brings.

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Love,
Mom