Marina Grace turned two-years-old on Monday. My goodness. Ya’ll already know how I feel about my babies growing up and time passing too quickly, so I’m not going to get into it… again. Instead I’ll share these photographs that I snapped at the aquarium the other day.
Instead of a traditional birthday party, we decided to spend the day at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden. It’s a bit of a ride, two hours each way, but it was a lot of fun. I’ve been obsessed with aquariums and zoos for as long as I can remember. Visiting them has always been a favorite pastime and I’ve visited lots of them all over the country during my travels. However, because my babies weren’t always the easiest to take out and about, it’s been over four years since I’ve gone! Far too long.
This day was very special for me and for the littles, as well. Marina was more than willing to share her special day with the whole family and we had a blast. Best of all, they were both so well-behaved. Proving that, indeed, they are finally ready to start exploring the world beyond our usual routine. What a joy for this Mama’s adventurous heart!
Happy Birthday, my sweet Marina Grace. You are funny and loving and wild. You have the most-determined little spirit I’ve ever come across. I know that it will serve you well. Stay strong and fierce, my beautiful girl. I love you always and always and all ways. xo
It’s been over a year since I’ve done a Roman update. That makes me so sad, but considering the year that I’ve had, it’s understandable. You know how most of the time you look at your child and you’re busy thinking about life’s happenings. You look at them but you’re thinking about what you’ll make for dinner or the fact that they need their hair washed or how they’ve managed to get a hole in yet another pair of pants. But then, once in awhile, you look at your child and you’re just looking at them. Nothing else is on your mind, just them, and you’re taking them in, admiring every little detail of their face, you’re taking in the full miracle that is your child.
Lately when I have those moments, looking at Roman, I’m just struck by how big he is. I mean we’re always in awe that our children are “getting so big, so quickly,” that’s a constant in parenting. But these days there is something different, a massive transition. I remember when he transitioned from a baby to a toddler and it was shocking and exciting and sad, all at once. But right now, he’s transitioning from a toddler into a boy… and it’s just. I’m crying just typing these words. I have to pause.
Life has this way of being a never-ending roller coaster, that’s how it is, highs and lows. But parenthood, damn, it’s on a whole different level. Sometimes the breeze is just right and your sails are full and your cruising across smooth waters. Then, in the blink of an eye, from nowhere, a storm blows in — a storm of biblical proportion and everything that you thought was steady and secure vanishes from beneath your feet and you’re tossed into a treacherous sea.
It’s been getting harder and harder to pick him up, he’s so heavy. And last night, for the first time that I can remember, he tried to curl up on my lap and he’s just so big, we couldn’t get comfortable. Now the tears are coming, fat and ugly down my cheeks. Perhaps it wasn’t the craziness of life that’s kept me from writing this post. Perhaps, it’s rather the fact that it just hurts, that I just want it to slow down and it won’t. It never will. It will only go faster.
When Roman was a baby, I made these detailed posts about his development. I placed all of this emphasis on his growth, his sleeping patterns, how he was eating, and so on. I stopped doing that a long time ago. I hardly every did it for Marina, maybe just in her first few months of life or so. As I’ve moved deeper into my role of mother, I’ve realized just how unimportant those silly details were. These days I’d rather be fully immersed in enjoying and cherishing my baby’s milestones as opposed to meticulously writing them down.
Gosh, this post has become so much about me, and not really about Roman at all. So let me say a few things about him.
My sweet boy started school in September. He loves it. He loves his friends and he loves his teachers. He’s never once hesitated when it’s time to go into his classroom. While so many of his classmates hesitate at the door and even have tantrums, refusing to leave their mother’s side, Roman bounces in with a heart of love and excitement each morning. I had my first parent teacher conference a few weeks ago and Roman seems to be doing great. He has a little trouble controlling his emotions at certain times, but his teacher assures me that it’s all developmentally appropriate.
At home, he is as smart, sweet, and creative as ever. I see this emotional and intellectual transition occurring in him, where simple explanations no longer cut it. He’s not just content with yes or no, he wants to know why and how, too. He is a little love. He caters to my constant requests for cuddles and always gives me “a kissy” if I feel sad or get hurt. He’s an excellent big brother, happily caring for his “baby ‘Rina” and teaching her the ways of the world.
He has his moments, of course, as all three-year-olds do. We’ve definitely experienced more behavior issues this year than we had during his one’s and two’s. He doesn’t like to be told no, and he gets very emotional very quickly — red face, tears, the whole works. We’re working on these things, and with the help of his preschool teachers (who assure me it’s normal for his age) we’re definitely seeing progress.
Without getting too far into a lot of the “milestones” conversation, just a couple of points. First, he’s huge. He towers over other three-year-olds and even four and five-year-olds, too. At age three he wears clothing made for age five and shoes made for age six. Consequently people always think he is much older than he actually is. However, he is so well-spoken and polite that people continue to struggle believe that he is only three. He is most definitely mature beyond his years in many ways, while in other ways he’s right on target.
There is just so much to say about my Roman James. But mostly, he is a pleasure. Brilliant, funny, outgoing, and adventurous. He has an excitement about life that fills my heart with the greatest joy and gratitude. Every time that I think my heart has reached maximum capacity and I simply can’t love him anymore — the limits of my love are stretched again and my adoration for my son explodes to greater heights like fireworks.
Thank you so much for allowing me to be your Mama, my darling Roman James. I loved you then, I love you still, always have, always will. ♥
Growth & Appearance: You are about six months overdue for a well-visit. Just keeping it real. There are a lot of reasons for this. The two primary reasons are that 1. I don’t like the way that the pediatricians make me feel when I tell them that I’m spacing out your shots and 2. Life has been a little bit bat-shit-crazy-insane lately (always? just me?) and you and your brother are regularly sick, so we see the pediatrician plenty enough as it is.
All of that, simply to say that I’m not quite sure how tall you are or how much you weigh. What I do know is that you’ve outgrown most of your size 18-month clothes and you fit comfortably in size 2T, and even then you’re starting to push the limits on a few of those pieces.
So, in my book, you’re as healthy as a horse and you eat like one, too. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
Sleeping: Since so much time has passed since your last update, a hell of a lot has transpired and I couldn’t hope to note it all. However, the most notable change, is that between 15 and 16 months, you stopped nursing and started sleeping through the night. If this were a game show, this is the part where the horns would blow, balloons would fly, and confetti would fall from the ceiling.
Up until the very last night that you were nursing, you woke up every 45 minutes through the night. Yes, you read that correctly. Every forty-five minutes. All night, every night. When I finally weaned you, I didn’t have very much discomfort/leakage which goes to prove that you were, indeed, comfort nursing (i.e. using me as a pacifier). After the second night without, you slept a straight twelve hours through. Clearly, you were ready and, needless to say, so was I. We both benefited greatly from the change and the whole new world of uninterrupted sleep.
These days you generally sleep straight through the night between 10-12 hours. However, if you are sick or teething — which, let’s face it, happens a lot in the world of toddlers — you tend to wake up throughout the night and require lots of cuddles to get back down.
As for napping, you typically take one nap a day which lasts between 30 minutes and three hours, all depending on how tired you are and how quiet and dark the room is. For awhile, you would only nap in the car and I spent a solid six months driving around for an hour or so each day so that you and your brother would sleep. Now, you’ve started napping in your crib and your stroller most days which is a huge relief.
Eating: As I alluded to above, you eat like a horse that got loose in the grain bin. I’ve never seen a little girl eat so much. I don’t know where you put it! Although, admittedly you do have the sweetest, roundest Buddha belly around. You love all of the food. You favor salty/savory foods over sweet, unlike your brother and your Papa, but just like your Mama. You’re an amazing eater, really. There isn’t much that you won’t eat and you eat in large quantities. You can easily pack in three bowls of spaghetti at one sitting.
Development: I thought that you were behind Roman developmentally, but when I looked back at his update from this age, I see that you are right on par with him. You are smart as a whip. Your vocabulary expands daily. You are strong and agile and pretty damned fearless. You tackle any obstacles in front of you and it’s amazing how you differ so much from your brother in this regard. He wouldn’t even go near a step until he was at least two-years-old. Meanwhile you can make it up a flight of stairs in a flash.
Favorites: You don’t have very many favorites, per se. Like your brother, you never attached yourself to any one object like a blanket or stuffed animal. You treat all things equally, although you do like to have something in your arms while you sleep. As far as food goes, you love rice & beans and spaghetti. You will eat any type of cheese that is put in front of you. You also love potato chips and french fries. You still don’t really give a hoot about TV, much to my dismay. However, you have just in the past few weeks taken a liking to Sponge Bob and you will sit and watch that for a few minutes which is about the longest that anything, ever, has kept your attention.
Dislikes & Behavior: Speaking of keeping your attention… it’s nearly impossible to do. You have the attention span of a fly. You are constantly moving from one thing to the next. Up until the past month, there was no such thing as independent play for you. Your days of “high needs” infanthood have blended into your days of high needs toddlerhood. I have a whole lot to say on the topic, but I’m going to save it for another post. Suffice to say that you are my little handful. Still, you have come a very long way from those newborn days of crying eight+ hours a day and sleeping no where except my arms. You are gaining some independence, little by little.
You are my silly, funny, wild girl. You give the biggest hugs and the sweetest kisses imaginable. You are so beautiful and so smart. I love you, Marina Grace, now and always. xo
Today marks one week since I took these pictures and one week since Roman’s first day of preschool. Over the years, I’ve shared how I’ve gone back & forth between sending my children off to school and homeschooling. About a year ago, I began bringing Roman to church with me on Sundays and leaving him in the church nursery with the teachers and other children. To my surprise, he loved it. There were no tears, not even close! He made friends immediately and he was always looking forward to going. Then, over the summer, I enrolled him in art camp for a few days. Again, he loved the experience and didn’t flinch when I walked away. It is clear to me that he really enjoys being around other children.
Since Marina’s birth, it has gotten more and more difficult for me to homeschool Roman. Marina was a high needs baby and continues to be a high needs toddler. I’ll write in detail about that, but for now, suffice to say that effective homeschooling has become next to impossible (for me!).
In any case, now that Roman is in his second week of preschool, I can see how much he is growing & thriving already. He adores his teachers and his friends. He’s learning new things and experiencing interpersonal relationships in a way that I never could have provided him at home. I am very happy with our choice to send him. He goes to school twice a week — on Wednesdays & Fridays from 9:00 am to 11:30 am.
Roman’s school is a modern Co-Op Nursery School located in my church (which is also where I work!). The school is nonsectarian (not faith-based) and it’s very family-oriented. Parents are encouraged to be involved as much as possible. It is strictly a nursery/preschool, meaning that it is not a daycare (there are no infants, and no full-day program available for working parents). There are two classes–a class for two-year-olds and a class for three & four-year-olds. I love the school’s philosophies which include hands-on learning, class trips, outdoor play, science, music, and art.
I was a little bit emotional on his first day, but mostly I was just as excited as he was. There were no tears shed from any of us, which really surprised me. I thought I would be Miss Waterworks, but it all went off without a hitch. While some of the other little ones were nervous, Roman wasn’t at all. In fact, he ran straight up to his teachers and greeted them with a big hug. One of the teachers said, “Wow! We’re used to getting this kind of love on the last day, not the first!” My sweet, loving boy. He fills my heart with a warm pride that I could never put into words.
Here’s hoping that the rest of the year goes as smoothly & wonderfully as the beginning has. xo