Sunday, March 24, 2013

Four Years of Charlie

Four years old. How is that possible? I hope I remember with Eleanor how much change occurs between the age of three and four so I truly appreciate it - it is not the easiest age to appreciate. He's gone from toddler to preschooler. From a baby to a little boy. It's amazing how different Charlie was a year ago. He was this little thing I pushed around in a stroller and still put down to nap. 

Now he is so independent. He picks out his own clothes, has preferences and opinions on everything and will dig his heels in an unlimited number of times a day to assert his independence. He will do it HIMSELF, thank you very much. 

The clothing thing is a huge difference since this time last year. I used to have so much fun dressing him and picking out cute boy clothes. All of the sudden around three and a half, he refused to wear what I picked out. And what he picks out are often mismatched or just.. weird. He loves track pants and if he had his way would wear shorts and a t-shirt all year long - specifically in the form of a soccer uniform. 

He will often have just a few items of clothing that are acceptable to him at any given time and the rest of those nice clothes you bought him might as well be given away. He will have nothing to do with them. Same with shoes - if he hasn't selected them himself at the store, it is unlikely he will wear them. I try not to interfere unless he has picked something inappropriate for the weather or ridiculously too small. I try to keep only clothes that fit and are season appropriate in his dresser to avoid battles. 

We've had to compromise several times and let him wear his soccer uniform on cold days on the condition he stays indoors. He strongly dislikes coats and sweaters but can be persuaded to wear a hoodie. He told me yesterday he wanted a fleece and I'm irrationally happy about it. He wants it to be red. But then we'll have something to keep him warm! Hooray! 

I'm told I should be happy about this independence. It's something that indicates he will be ready for kindergarten. All the same, I miss being able to put him in cute outfits. My mom has better luck getting him to wear nice things. If Nana picks it out, Charlie will generally wear it. Here's a classic Charlie selection: batman, track pants, cowboy boots. 
We no longer have naps around here - Charlie dropped it around three and a half. He still tires out and can get grouchy, but he wasn't going to sleep until 10pm on days he napped, so I just let it go. It wasn't worth having him up so late. We do some quiet time in the early afternoon, usually some TV shows. 

It can be a very long day keeping him entertained with no break. He continues to be into everything and very active. He asks every day to go see this friend or that friend. A day isn't complete unless you get to play with friends! He also wants to play outside every single day. Living in London's crappy weather followed by the long winter here has been killer for him.  

Being outside either at a playground or playing some kind of sport is Charlie's favorite thing to do. If you ask him what his favorite sport is, he will answer with about 7 different sports. Soccer, football, baseball, basketball, cricket, tennis and lacrosse. Any sport not listed is just one he hasn't discovered yet. He wants to do it all. 

For his birthday we got Charlie a bike with training wheels and he has picked it up pretty quickly. He's learned to swim, as well - but also screamed his way through most of the lessons we did last fall. So. Painful. He's just one of those people who learns physical activities easily. 

He's still not one to sit down and do crafts or artwork, though he enjoys looking at books. His favorite books have to do with firemen and superheroes. And Halloween for some reason! He memorizes them and reads them back to himself sometimes. We read books that he chooses every night before bed. I mainly buy them on Amazon. He is so loud and wants to run around at the library. Too frustrating to go there!

When he's not outside, he likes to dress up and pretend. He has a bunch of costumes at home and his teachers tell me he is always in costume at school. How method, right? Even when we're in the car he will be going on in his car seat about some kind of imaginary situation like fighting fires or car races or something. 
Charlie loves to cook in the kitchen and I've started buying small scale cooking tools just for him. He loves to bake mostly, but will mix and stir just about anything I ask him to. He also loves to help his Daddy at the grill. He's starting to expand his horizons on eating because he's more likely to eat it if he helped cook it. Sometimes we only get a bite of something in him, but other times he will resist, take a bite and then eat the whole thing. Progress! 

As for potty training, after all of our struggles with #2, once it clicked, it clicked. He does a great job of telling me when he needs to go and going in the bathroom and (of course) doing it all on his own. He is dry at night, which I find really miraculous. We did pull ups for a while, but stopped in December because they were always dry in the morning. 

Charlie has such a personality on him. He will talk to just about anyone and tell them any random thing going on in his life. I have no idea how he comes up with all of it. Some of it is make believe and some is just his opinions on things or telling stories about his life to people. He had a blood orange for the first time the other day and told a bunch of people at the children's museum all about it. Fortunately, most people find it funny and humor him. He loves to talk. 
He is really good at remembering people's names and has recently started talking about siblings. That is so-and-so's brother or sister, etc. I hear all sorts of things about all sorts of people on the drive home from preschool. He makes friends very quickly and will often refer to people we see but haven't met yet as his friends. Like he already knows they will be friends and stop telling me not to just walk into their backyard and play with them MOM.

That's another thing - he's calling us Mom and Dad a lot. Ugh. Don't I get a few more years as MOMMY??? Anyways.

Preschool is going very well for Charlie this year. His class is very structured and that seems to work well for him. I honestly thought it was overkill at the beginning of the year, all the routines and rules and schedules the teachers had - but he absolutely loves it. 

He stays at school for lunch a few days a week and some activity and has a blast. Eating lunch at school with friends is VERY cool in Charlie's book. He is already talking about riding the bus to school when he goes to kindergarten. That is also way cool.

Considering how Charlie was our entire world up until late December, I find it amazing we haven't had any sibling rivalry. On the contrary, he is very gentle and sweet with Eleanor and tells me all the time how much he loves her. I have no idea why he is not more jealous of all the attention she gets right now, just by virtue of her age. He will always take care of her - I know that for sure. He tells her she is his favorite girl! 
Another thing I find amazing about Charlie is his empathy. I didn't expect to see empathy in a three/four year old, but I have. He is concerned when he sees other kids crying or upset. It impacts him and he wants to know why they are upset and what we can do to help. He also tries to be comforting when someone is upset - including me. It blows me away. He is a very compassionate person by nature. Even as I write that, I can't believe I'm saying it about a four year old. 

If he has grown up this much from 3 to 4, I can only imagine what the next year holds for us. I hope I can find more time to blog about all the funny things he says and does because I don't want to forget. He makes me laugh out loud every single day. And also wring his neck a lot of times! But I watch him with fascination. I can't take credit for it - he is truly God's child. 

Twins. Not Really.

Eleanor at 12 weeks:
 Charlie at 12 weeks:
She's a lucky girl. I think she got the eyelashes.

Charlie's Fourth Birthday Party

Charlie's fourth birthday marks the end of Mom and Dad's influence on birthday parties. Gone are the days I can select a location of my choosing, a theme, cake, etc. or pin creative ideas on Pinterest. Well, I guess I can pin them all I want - my child is having none of it. 

Charlie let me know back in the fall that he would be having his birthday party at "the gymnastics place" where he had attended a couple of parties. We have been all over this town to birthday parties of his classmates and friends and that was what he wanted. 

No amount of discussion would persuade him to have it at the Maymont Children's farm (my first choice), the soccer bubble (despite his love of soccer), the SPCA (they do a very cute party) or anywhere else. He doesn't even take gymnastics. We did a class when he was two that was so nightmarish because he wouldn't follow directions that we haven't been back. 

I accepted defeat and persuaded Brad to as well. Gymnastics it was. So I order the invitations with a Shutterfly credit I had....... and Charlie absolutely hated them. They did not have a fire truck on them. I didn't know they were supposed to have a fire truck on them. He cried. Mommy fail. In my defense, I had no idea he felt so strongly about stationary. Aren't they cute, though?
Gymnastics, fire truck, cowboys... I then had to accept defeat that this party would have any sort of theme. To show I could be a good sport and not a control freak, I took him to the grocery store bakery and let him pick out whatever cake he wanted. He selected an extremely obnoxious Transformers birthday cake with grey icing on it. 

Unrelated: It reminded me of that part in Steel Magnolias when they are talking about the bleeding armadillo groom's cake and that they can't begin to think about how you make grey icing! Anyone else? Just me?

Anyways, he was thrilled with the cake. The favors passed muster, too. I was going to order the kid's straw cowboy hats from Oriental Trading company, but the shipping took two weeks and I waited too long. So it was your typical gift bag of random assorted crap. Charlie's only problem was that he didn't get one. We had last minute RSVPs and I didn't have enough for him to get one too. Mean Mommy! 

The party was really nice and Charlie had an amazing time. The gymnastics place throws a mean party - the parents of the birthday kid don't have to do anything and the parents of the guests can leave after dropping off their children! They took care of everything. The kids ran around and played, cake was served, we all went home. It was so easy. 

I took a bunch of pictures, but most of them look like this: 
Admittedly, I am not a high powered camera toting mom. I am a point and click mom. So I get point and click caliber pictures. 

Eleanor was a good sport and napped in the carrier for most of the party. Here we are:
 
The lady running the party is also a nanny and so good with kids. She was great about making Charlie the center of attention at the party. After attending so many parties and having to understand that it was his friends' special days, it was great he had his time to shine. She really made him feel special and that it was his party. 
He loved having everyone sing happy birthday too him... and that his cake came with an actual transformer on it. The only way we got him to go home was telling him he could open his gifts when he got there. 

He still talks about the party every few days and asks when he is turning five so he can have another party. Can't wait to see what he picks next year! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Charlie's Four Year Check Up

I never know what to expect from Charlie at the doctor. Most times he is awful to take. He screamed the entire time at the dentist and she was barely able to count his teeth. No teeth cleaning was allowed. But when I took him in for his flu shot a few months ago he was perfect and so brave. It's a crap shoot.

That's why I'm glad Brad was able to come with us to the appointment - in case enthusiastically demonic Charlie arrived and refused to cooperate on anything. Fortunately the appointment went mostly well.

We got his height and weight and they gave him a vision test, which he took about as seriously as a 4 year old. He hesitated when the nurse said to undress but thought it was funny he would be naked like Eleanor, who had just been weighed. When the doctor knocked on the door, Charlie yelled "I'm naked!" as loud as he could. In case anyone wasn't sure.

The only painful moment was when he freaked, as usual, when the doctor wanted to look in his ears. He has had too many bad experiences with nurses at that practice trying to clean them out. Promising it wouldn't hurt and then it hurts. He trusts no one with his ears. So we had to pin him down for the doctor to get a quick look and he screamed like crazy.

After throwing that giant fit, he got dressed and the doctor began Eleanor's check up. Charlie was kind enough to tell Eleanor to be brave. You know, like him. Not really.

He had to get two vaccinations, polio and chicken pox. He'll get the remaining two before he starts kindergarten next year.

Stats -

Weight: 35 pounds (50th)
Height: 40 3/4 inches (50-75th)

His next appointment will be after he turns five. FIVE! 

Eleanor's Two Month Check Up

I scheduled Charlie's 4 year and Eleanor's 2 month appointments on the same day. Then I realized that was crazy and convinced Brad to go with me. The appointment was a little crazy, but not as bad as I expected. Charlie is still the wild card and he ended up doing ok.

Since Eleanor had just been sick the week before and had a fever most of the week, we held off on vaccinations until this week. She has to get so many it just seemed unwise to give them to her when she wasn't 100%. The doctor thought it was silly to wait, but that's the beauty of the second kid - you no longer care what other people think.

Everything looked good and she is chugging along in the weight gain department. No huge gains - she is slow and steady. Emphasis on slow. She remains in the same percentile for height and weight, which is all our practice really looks for. She's just not an aggressive eater like Charlie was.

The doctor told us the two biggest threats to her safety right now are her rolling over for the first time unexpectedly and her very helpful big brother. So don't leave her unattended on a sofa or bed where she could roll off and watch Charlie carefully around her.

I didn't tell the doctor this but I have already learned both these lessons. Charlie taught me the roll over one when he fell off the bed once as a baby. We are hopeful he will still be good at math.

And then there was the time I left Eleanor in the swing in the den and was in the kitchen making Charlie lunch. All of the sudden I heard him say from about 3 feet behind me, "Look Mommy, I'm holding Eleanor!" Yeah. Instant heart attack.

I figure you don't have to tell your doctor everything.

Anyways, here are the stats (for the two of you who care) -

Weight: 10 pounds, 8 ounces (25th)
Height: 23 inches (50-75th)
Head: 15 3/8 inches (50th)

Her next appointment is at 4 months of age. I am sure we will be there for some reason or another before then. She'll get the same vaccinations at 4 and 6 months. Hopefully we can skip the fever next time.

Two Months of Eleanor

Eleanor's second month has been.... exhausting. We kicked things off with her reflux diagnosis, enjoyed some screamy gas pains the whole time and ended it with a virus/trip to the ER. I am. So tired.

I haven't had time to go back and look in the blog, but this is overall feeling much harder than it was with Charlie. Who knows, maybe Charlie was exactly this hard and I just have it blocked out. I'm searching for positive, inspirational things to say about the experience. Umm.... she's really cute!

The reflux is mostly under control with Zantac. The gas has subsided as her digestive tract has matured. And after a week of almost non-stop fever (after a 3am trip to the ER), she now just has residual cough and congestion. So... progress!

We are now working on sleep and moving on from being up every 2.5 to 3 hours at night. We're starting to get some slightly longer stretches at night. It all hinges on her getting enough sleep during the day. If she's overtired, you have a very long night ahead of you. Some days it feels like all I do is try to convince her to sleep. And convince myself to stay awake.

We definitely have a girl on our hands. She is quite finicky. Her nursing environment must be perfectly peaceful. Her diaper must be perfectly dry. There are standards to be met here people. Meet them or you will pay.

Dressing her has been fun. Pink is all over this house right now. She is very long - that is a 3 to 6 month outfit her Nana got her in the photo. That looks too short. I'm excited for warmer weather. She has all sorts of cute summer outfits waiting for her in her closet!

We are getting lots smiles and coos now. Except for Charlie, who usually gets this funny look from her with her brow furrowed. Her voice is very soft and sweet. Like Charlie, she wants to be part of the action. Don't even think about sticking her in the swing while everyone else is in the kitchen talking.

I'm sure there are all sorts of things I'm forgetting. I'm just so sleepy all the time I have no memory. I can't even remember a good example of how tired I am! We are looking forward to things improving sleep-wise in the next month. I'm sure next month's update will even make sense!