Back to the grind

I know I’m not alone in saying this, but summer has flown by way too quickly! Sure, we have a slightly shorter summer than most, but even then, I feel like June was just here a minute ago. And now I am getting ready to send my first-born back to school in just shy of 12 hours from now.

It was a jam-packed summer to be sure. Two out-of-town trips, three camping trips, tee-ball, swimming, skating, playing with friends, way too many late nights to count. Who knew going back to school could feel like a break??

It’s been a little strange these past few weeks, ahead of Connor starting 1st grade. And by strange, I mean, there has been absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about it. This time last year, I was having panic attacks about sending my little man off into the world. Starting Kindergarten is just such a big freaking deal, that 1st grade has felt completely anti-climactic. School supplies? Got em, piece of cake. School clothes? Most still fits from the Spring, easy peasy. Sending your offspring out into the world without you? Been there, done that.

But then this all of course leads to the inevitable moment of fear: “Why am I not panicking? What am I forgetting to worry about? There must be SOMETHING I’ve overlooked!” So maybe not completely anti-climactic, but close enough.

Everything really is set and ready to go. Clothing is laid out, backpack is ready, alarm clocks are set. We had our night before school starts pep talks, and even read the sweetest book, a gift from the sweetest Kindergarten teacher Connor ever could have asked for. So we are ready.

Except I know that tomorrow, after all is said and done, and we’ve hugged and said our goodbyes, there will likely be a tear or two in my eyes, and a lump in my throat. I am going to miss that kid! No matter how excited I am to watch him grow up and go off and do new things, I am always gonna miss my baby. Such is life, I guess.

And I know it’s going to get worse. Four weeks and counting until I have to survive the preschool sendoff, times 2. At least they won’t be gone full-time, yet….

I’m not ready…

Tonight was parent orientation for Connor’s preschool, which starts a week from today. It wasn’t anything big. They just gave us a rundown of the activities, took questions, showed off the classrooms, let us make a little first-day gift for our kids… no big deal, right?

So why did I shed a few tears as I drove back home? Because, while it may only be three hours a day for three days a week, this is a huge step! My little baby boy is going off to school all by himself. He is growing up so fast, and I am excited to watch him grow but darn it this is a bittersweet new journey.

I have been so unbelievably blessed to be home with my children these past two years. I still remember the day I had to take a tiny 10-week-old Connor and drop him off at daycare. I remember handing him over to his teacher and practically running out the door before anyone could see me cry. Every day that I went to work, I left a piece of my heart behind, and it was so hard. And it never really got any easier. Not until the day I made the decision to not go back to work after Ben and Alex were born. At that moment, the guilt finally slipped away because I knew I wouldn’t have to miss out on any of my babies, anymore.

So okay, I guess I still suffer from some separation anxiety. It’s not that I worry he won’t be in a great place, he will. It’s not that I worry that he can’t function without me, he can. It’s just so hard to have that piece of my heart somewhere else, not beside me.

I tell everyone that the reason we put Connor into preschool is to help ease him into the transition of being in a structured classroom setting, away from me and his brothers, to help prepare him for Kindergarten next year, and beyond. And that is true. But maybe I did this a little for me too, to prepare me for the transition. Because I know that for all the anxiety I am feeling right now, it will be exponentially worse this time next year.

Deep breaths, it is going to be okay. This is a part of life. They grow up. They do new things. Embrace and celebrate the change, do not fear it…. yup, going to have to repeat all of this to myself quite a bit for the next few weeks.

When a table is more than just a piece of furniture

Today I picked up two replacement chairs for our kitchen table. One recently met an untimely demise at the hands of my second-born, another is on its last leg (no pun intended of course). And it got me thinking about this table we gather around each day for family meals, school work, and so much more…

I have had my kitchen table for almost a decade now. I still remember buying it with my father, as we worked feverishly to furnish my first apartment out of college. A week prior, I had packed up my life in New York, hugged my friends goodbye, finished my last final exam, and moved across the country to begin a new adventure in Colorado. I remember finding this table and chair set at one of the local furniture stores and falling in love with it. It was simple, cozy, not too big, sturdy, functional, perfect for what I needed as I started out on my own. And back then I could not possibly imagine what the future would hold for this little table…

IMAG0389I never could have imagined sitting down at this table for a romantic dinner with my future husband. I didn’t imagine it would be the site where my children would messily learn the art of feeding themselves, first with their hands, and later with utensils. I never envisioned it being the place where my boys would sit down to draw, paint, and eventually read and write. Did I know back then that I would scrub crayon marks off of its surface nearly every single day? That the surface would someday be peppered with tiny little fork stab marks from overzealous eaters? If only this dear table and I could have seen what the future would bring…. the memories that would be made gathering around it.

And it’s not just the kitchen table. All around our home I am surrounded by items that have made this wonderful journey through adulthood with me. There’s the couch that sits in our upstairs landing, the same couch that my brother convinced me to buy with my very first paycheck. This is the couch my friends would crash on after a long night of partying… that I would crash on when my overnight shift took its toll and I couldn’t find the energy to get up and go to bed.  Now I crash on it when I have a child who needs extra snuggles in the middle of the night. I have comforted all of my children at one time or another, cuddling them on its soft cushions. I have even spent a few nights there on my own, listening, because it’s just a little closer to the boy’s rooms and it makes me feel closer to them when they aren’t feeling well and might need me.

It’s amazing the memories you will build in the items that surround your life. They grow with you as you grow, meeting your needs as they change. I know not everyone holds on to furniture for 10 years, or longer. I also know that even we will not be able to hold on to all of this furniture forever. We are already a tight fit around the kitchen table now, I expect that to become a more pressing problem as the boys grow bigger. Eventually, we will have to upgrade.

But in the meantime, I will continue to enjoy the stories my furniture can tell me, the memories we can make together…. the stories that are filled with the love of family.

22 Months and 6 Days

Yesterday was a fairly significant milestone for us. Ben and Alex were 22 months and 6 days old. I know, you are thinking, “so????” Sure that isn’t one of your more typical anniversaries. But it is important to me. Why?

When Connor was 22 months and 6 days old, his life (and ours) forever changed in an incredible way: he became a big brother. Yesterday Connor was exactly twice as old as Ben and Alex. And I cannot help but feel nostalgic when I think back to his days as a 22 month old, and all of the changes that came.

That morning that we left for the hospital for my induction, I remember blowing kisses to a sleeping baby Connor… my baby. But when I saw him again that afternoon, suddenly he wasn’t a baby anymore. He was so big! It was as if in those 12 hours we were apart, he grew up on me. It is amazing how old a 22 month old can seem when he is sitting next to a 5-pound tiny bundle of joy.

Connor holding Benjamin, just a few hours old

Connor holding Benjamin, just a few hours old

That was a hard transition for me. I wasn’t ready to let go of my Baby Connor and embrace Big Boy Connor. I wanted to freeze time and keep all of my boys little forever…. well, maybe after the twins started sleeping more and crying less…. but you get the point.

Now I find myself looking back at that transition in our lives, and it forces me to realize that Ben and Alex aren’t babies anymore either. I know, technically they have been in the “toddler” category for quite some time now…. But they are almost 2 years old! They are growing and learning and changing every single day. They have embraced the Terrible 2’s, much to our dismay. They can communicate their needs and wants with an extensive vocabulary that continues to surprise us. They can show compassion for one another. They can assert dominance over one another. And they can demonstrate true, deep, endless love for their brothers.

Benjamin, 22 months old

Benjamin, 22 months old

In my eyes, Ben and Alex seem so much smaller and younger than Connor did at this age, but I know that is the same mental trick that was played on me 22 months ago. I have played the “what if” game… what if at this stage in the twins’ lives we were bringing home another baby? I know that they would grow up overnight in my eyes, compared to that brand new sibling. But because that has not happened and they remain my youngest children, I think it is safe to say that they will remain babies in my eyes for quite a while longer.

Alexander, 22 months old

Alexander, 22 months old

Maybe I’m just not quite ready to let go of the baby stage of life just yet… It is bittersweet to watch your children grow… to mourn the end of one phase even as you celebrate the next. So no, I think I will hold on to my “babies” a little while longer, even Connor. They have the rest of their lives to be all grown up, I’d rather not rush it.

Connor, 22 months x 2!

Connor, 22 months x 2!

Pool time and potty training

Ah, one milestone draws to a close while another begins.Connor_Swimming

Today was Connor’s last day of his two-week swim class. Is he ready for the English Channel? Not by a long shot. But over the past eight lessons, I have observed his confidence in the water grow by leaps and bounds. He is now happy to put his head down and blow bubbles, float on his back (with assistance), kick his legs, moves his arms, and today I even watched him swim on his own with just the aid of a floatation device. There are not enough words to express how proud I am of my little man!

Click here to see CJ in action.

So now we are ready to tackle the next big challenge: potty training. It has been a year since we first introduced the concept, and we have had a long and rather frustrating year of no progress. Looking back now, I know Connor wasn’t ready a year ago. Sure, he understood what needed to happen, that was never the issue. I think the massive changes that came with bringing two new babies into the house were just too much, and we should not have pressured him to embrace any more changes.

The past few weeks and months, I have tried to just sit back and observe Connor’s behavior, when it comes to matters of the potty. We have talked with him about how 3 year olds don’t wear diapers anymore and how his friends are starting to use the potty. We have told him matter-of-factly that he is getting too big for his diapers, and since they don’t make a bigger size, we really have no choice but to start using the potty. The truth is they do make a bigger size, but I feel that in parenting, there are always times when a little white lie may be in everyone’s best interest. I freely admit that I feel this is one of those times.

Along with this gentle nudging, recently I have seen some changes in his bathroom behavior that show me, without going in to too much detail, he is ready for the next step. But at the same time, I also know that he uses his diapers as a safety net. So beginning tomorrow, we cut the cord, so to speak. The safety net disappears, and we let the cards (or poop and pee) fall where they may.

We shall be patient. We shall be positive. But with the exception of naptime and nighttime, the diapers are gone for good! Wish us luck!

A Big Milestone: Walking!

When you think of all the milestones a child will reach in the first few years of life, walking seems like one of the biggest. It’s almost as if a transition takes place in those first few steps: the infant becomes an infant no more. Tonight I shed a few tears, tears of joy but also tears of sorrow, as I watched the last of my children take those first shaky steps out of infancy.

I didn’t expect to feel that way, it kind of came as a shock to me. Honestly, I have been the one encouraging Benjamin and Alexander to walk, eager to help them enter the world of upright travel. Because it is exciting to watch your children grow up and try new things and conquer new feats. I’ve never been one to worry about what happens next or how much harder life will be once they are fully mobile. They’ve already been fully mobile!! When you have to block the entrance to the children’s play place at the mall, as one twin tries to crawl out one way and the other tries to crawl out the other, suddenly having three walking children is no harder than the status quo. So I said, bring on the walking!

I have also been incredibly curious to see when each child would accomplish this feat. Granted, I know better than to compare any of my children. But I am an analyzer, so analyze the data I must… Connor started walking at 10.5 months, early by any standard. The average baby will begin walking right around one year of age, some before, some after. Any of that is within the acceptable developmental norm. But let’s face it, if one of my children is going to be an overachiever, why not all of them?

Alexander was the first to take the plunge. The very day the boys celebrated their 11-month birthday, Alex took several wild, borderline out of control, steps, landing firmly on Alan, laying on the floor. From that very moment, it was as if a lightbulb had turned on. The next day, Alex was walking every chance he got, never phased by falling along the way. That was nine days ago. Since then, he has mastered the art of bending down to pick up an object and then returning to standing, without losing his balance. He still uses furniture to get up initially, but I don’t think that will be the case for long. Even today, I caught him repeatedly just pacing the kitchen, pacing the living room, walking with no set goal in mind, other than to practice and perfect his skills.

Benjamin has taken a different approach to walking. He is the much more cautious of the two boys, so he takes his time until he enters his comfort zone. He has long-since mastered all of the essential skills leading up to walking. He has been cruising on furniture for quite some time. He will happily walk anywhere as long as someone holds his hand for support. And he is a pro with any push toy, so good at maneuvering now he can actually steer around obstacles! But he had yet to find the courage to let go of all support and try on his own… until tonight. Tonight Benjamin took two shaky steps from Daddy’s arms to Mommy’s arms, all on his own! And then he did it again, and a few more times. Tonight was an important step for Ben because he learned that it is okay to let go. And we are so proud of him for his efforts, as we are proud of all of our boys for the things they do!

I can’t wait to see where Ben goes from here, how long until his confidence begins to really build up. And then at that point, look out world, the Knight Boys are on the move!

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