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14 Months

I distinctly remember the moment Rowan turned on me. My sweet, happy child, the baby who people always asked, as she smiled toothlessly at them, “Does she EVER cry? She’s so easy-going!” Just after she turned 14 months, I was walking through the mall when she arched her back in my arms, the toddler signal that she wanted to be released to try out her new-found ability to walk on her own two feet, a little trick she had only learned a few weeks before. I didn’t want to set her down but she was persistent so I plopped her at my feet and reached for her hand. In the past she had willingly grasped it without argument but as I bent down to enfold the tiny bit of pudgy knuckles in my grip, she was… not there. In a 10 second time frame she had made her way 20 feet ahead of me and holy crap, when did she learn how to run? Arms flailing, pigtails flying in the wind, she was FREE.

I spent the next, oh, 4-5 years of my life painstakingly trying to contain that girl’s independent spirit. Trying to find the balance of not squashing it all-together, but getting her to just please put her shoes on without a 20 minute argument/meltdown. Keaton was such a miserable little guy for his first 14 months but miraculously, somewhere just before 15 months he transformed into this happy-go-lucky, easy-going little fellow that, sure, pulled a few typical assy toddler moves {in contrast to his sister he was super clingy}, but he didn’t have the attention span nor the motivation to have tantrums and also was not driven to destroy us like his sister was during the toddler years.

So now here we are with Ezra, at this pivotal moment of toddler development and I am maybe a little frightened of what the coming weeks/months/years have in store for us. If there was a spectrum, with Keaton at one end and Rowan at the other, Ezra would most likely fall two-thirds of the way to the Rowan end. He was a happy baby, but not quite as easy-going and smiley as she was. He is independent in many ways, but much more reliant on me. They are both very, very stubborn. The main difference though is that he is way, way, way less verbal at this age than she was and he is very, very physically strong. This is maybe causing me not an insignificant amount of fear for what it will be like to actually have to take him out in public, something I’ve not attempted on too grand a scale since he became mobile. I guess what I’m saying is, uh, if you have any calming, soothing vibes lying around, I would greatly appreciate if you’d throw them at my toddler every chance you can get.

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Now! Here’s how Ezra spent thirteen months…

* He learned to navigate going down the stairs backwards. He mastered climbing up them about thirty seconds after he learned to crawl at 8 months but after a few failed attempts to get down them face first, he just didn’t attempt it, which was kind of nice- I never even had to gate them off. If he went up to the loft, he’d just stay up there until he got bored, then he’d whine and I’d go up to retrieve him, and he just left the stairs going down to the entryway alone. Our house is 90% baby-proofed so he can really wander around wherever he wants and we don’t have to worry too much about what he’s getting into as long as the bathroom and bedroom doors stay shut. A day or two after he turned 13 months he finally figured out that he could make it down the stairs himself and after a few slow, tentative tries, he quickly learned to position himself on the top step, get on his belly, get a shit-eating grin across his face, push off with his arms and WHOOOOOSH,  he flies down backward at break-neck speed. Every time {no really, EVERY TIME} I run because I think he has fallen to his death but, no. There he is standing at the bottom, the grin still firmly planted wide on his cheeks.

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{Full disclosure, he did fall once and crack his head good on the bannister. He got a bad bump but when I called the pediatrician they told us he was most likely fine as he wasn’t wobbly, sleepy or throwing up so to just wake him up a few times in the night to be safe. The bump was already gone by the next morning and it didn’t slow him down a bit, although I watched over him pretty closely for the next few days, impeding on his fun.}

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* Into everything. Here is a comprehensive but not exhaustive list of things Ezra likes to get into {it grows by the nanosecond}: cupboards, bins, drawers, nightstands, make-up, toilet and accompanying paper, diaper stacks, diaper pail, cords, outlets and power strips {don’t forget to drool all over your hands or just go ahead and lick the sockets!} his siblings’ dressers which he pulls open and just starts FLINGING neatly folded clothing out of like there is goddamn buried treasure at the bottom and ohshit here comes mommy, better start flinging faster, must fling it alllllllll…., dog food and water dishes, bookshelves, old DVDs, whatever has been carelessly left on the first two inches of any higher-up table or counter-top, any glass that has been left out must be dumped unceremoniously, Barbies thrown asunder, sword bin ravaged.

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I am pleased to report that while we do occasionally have to gate the tree off in the mornings while we’re all running around and upanddown and upanddown the stairs, Ezra has mostly left it alone, or at least there hasn’t yet been any major tree related disasters. He will walk over and bat at the branches while staring at us, testing how long it takes to get the firm No! or uh-UH! but that’s about it.

* Lots of firsts this month! First carousel ride, first time decorating sugar cookies, first time eating Christmas cookies, first candy cane, first ride in a sled, first time wearing boots and snowpants. You pretty much rocked all of it, except maybe the boots which you just… did not understand. When I stood you up after putting them on you, you flopped back to the ground, unwilling to put your trust in the clunky things. Oh well, this being Minnesota, you have a whole loooooong winter to get used to them.

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* What is up with the sock thing, Baby? For whatever reason you hate them and figured out that if you take them off in front of me I just put them back on you so now you not only hide to go pull them off, you then hide the socks. I’ve found them in my nightstand, inside Tupperware containers, inside the child-proofed cabinets {uh, how are you doing this?} and in several random drawers. So far this is my favorite… I … don’t think this is what they mean by hanging your stockings…

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* Language. This is still a tough one. You say your own versions {that mostly only I can decipher} of cracker, cookie, stop, drop, pretzel, nosey, uh-oh, nie-nie, cheeks, sock, thank you, kiss, and some other randoms but still don’t use mama, daddy, baby, please, up, more etc. It’s so frustrating because you understand almost everything we say. You follow commands! You will materialize out of no where, pointing to your mouth, if someone says marshmallow. If I ask for a hug or a kiss you gladly give it. If I ask you to go get your milk, or cup or shoe or ball you don’t hesitate! But you just. won’t. say. the. words. yourself. Grumblecakes. You still MEOOOOOOW. Incessantly.

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*Throwing food. This has BY FAR been the most frustrating thing this month. We can no longert put food on Ezra’s high-chair tray so he can feed himself because after one or two bites he picks up a piece, holds it out to the side and stares at us blankly as he drops it to the dog. It’s BEYOND infuriating. {For us, obviously Luna is decidedly OK with this arragement.} To save food I began just sitting with him and putting bites directly in his mouth but now he just removes them, full of baby slime, and throws them over anyway. He refuses all vegetables and in true toddler form, has become pickier and pickier everyday. We’ve reverted back to the pouches of over-priced baby squeezers because he can feed them to himself, doesn’t throw them until they’re empty and at least there is some freaking spinach in them. I need to do a big diet overhaul for all of us in January, a big part of which will be to break this food throwing habit. Also, his facial eczema has only gotten worse. We cut out whole milk and most cheeses but fell woefully short on removing other dairy with the craziness of the holidays. So lots of food trouble-shooting ahead, after I get the big kids back to school.

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* As far as breastfeeding goes, Ezzie dropped his day feeding completely so we are now down to one nursing session in the morning. I don’t know how long we’ll keep this up, I have a feeling we’re down to our last few weeks of breastfeeding which, sunrise/sunset yadayada.

* His molars are coming in soooooo slooooooow, and have given him a perpetually runny nose that is driving us all bonkers. The top two have broken through and are making their way down, and his gums on the bottom are so damn swollen that I forgive him for being a cranky jerk most days.

* Ezra went to the church nursery for the first time this month! Admittedly, we do the church thing mostly for the kids. I’m not saying all hope is lost, but after being part of the shady-ass Catholic church for 30+ years, I’m finding it really hard to immerse myself in any religion for all the rage and anger I harbor for the terrible things that institution covered up and their disturbing stance on the civil rights issues of today. I do love the very open and accepting little Episcopal church we’ve joined and I’m so glad my kids have a group of wonderful role models to spend a couple of hours or so with each week but, well, let’s just say I wasn’t heartbroken that Bill has taken over church duty for the last six months as services and Sunday school fell right in the middle of naptime. Now that we are OFFICIALLY down to one nap between 11:30- 2ish though, we’ve started to go back as a family. Ezra went willingly to the nursery the first two times but has since decided that having mom or dad chase him up and down the halls is much preferable to a roomful of toys and doting teenagers so we’ll see how long my comeback lasts.

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Oh my Ezra. My very favorite time with you this month has been just after we wave through the window to the big kids as they get on the bus. I heat up my coffee and plop down on the floor. Sometimes we listen to This American Life or Radio Lab podcasts, sometimes we don’t. And then? We snuggle, or roll the ball, or tickle, or sing, or stack cups or build blocks or play horsey. I repeat words, you stare at me quiet and stubborn. You peek-a-boo from behind the couch or from behind your own chubby fingers. We laugh and laugh. The breakfast dishes are still in the sink, the laundry loads need to be switched, no one’s bed is made but I’m teaching you how to blow kisses and wow, I’m not giving up this moment for anything.

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Baby by treelight…

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A Decade of Loss

It doesn’t always feel like that. But today it does.

A decade of memories made without you. A decade where you didn’t hug me once. A decade where I didn’t steal your sunflower seeds or your car keys and get called, for the umpteenth time, The Ever Naughty. A decade where you didn’t see me graduate from college or come out of “the asshole years”. A decade where you didn’t see me get married. Meet my first, my second, my third baby. A decade where you didn’t get to see them grow.

A decade where you didn’t get to see me grow. As a person, as a wife, as a mother. All those hours logged in being my dad and for what? When you last saw me I was a twenty-three year old Aimless English Major Extraordinaire. Not the most hopeful place to leave a child off, huh? Oh, well, now I’m an Aimless Stay At Home Mom Extraordinaire so not too much has changed.

Except everything has.  And I’m sorry you’re not here. Sorry for myself, sorry for my siblings, sorry for mom, sorry for all of your grandchildren.

You want to know something I don’t like saying out loud because it upsets people? I don’t believe in heaven. {SHHH don’t tell mom, it’ll be worse than the Christmas Eve dinner she found out I pierced my tongue and that was no fun for any of us.} I don’t think you get to go up to some magical realm where everything’s perfect and we’re all reunited. Go ahead, all of you shaking your heads, I know you want to pity me so just get it over with. It is a beautiful notion, I’ll give you that, one that I completely understand the draw of… but I call FAIRY TALE.

I do believe you’re with me though, Dad. Your love and your life, the good and the bad, made an impression on my life and my shape as a person. Your love and energy and heart exist somewhere, on some plane, maybe cosmically watching, maybe not. Maybe just inside my heart. Sometimes I think I feel you but most of the time I just feel the empty space.

Either way, I know you’ve left a mark. Because of this, most of the time it doesn’t feel like a decade of loss, but a decade of gifts. You, along with mom, gave me the tools to become Me. Yes, some of it was achieved on my own, {I take full credit for my ability to swear so much over soso little}, but the model you gave has shaped me and I see that shape, your shape, everyday whether I always recognize it at the time or not.

Ten years. A decade. I will remember the gifts, but today the loss… well, it feels so wide, so open so huge right now.

miss you. love you. side hug. patpat.

~EverN

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, SIX!

This boy.

So much, all at once.

Slashing, pewing, round-house kicking.

Jumping, wiggling, couch-flips.

Spinning, twirling, split-jumps.

Hugging, snuggling, kisses blown.

A spy. A ninja, both regular and turtle. A Jedi. A Stormtrooper. A puppy. A little boy whose mom died in a tragic motorcycle accident. A police officer. A fireman. A big guy teenager. A SYTYCD contestant who always gets a ticket to Vegas. A doctor. A patient. A baseballer. A footballer. A basketballer. A soccer baller. Not a hockey pucker, mom, I don’t like to skate. An olympic diver.

A dreamer of dreams so big and so small.

Kindergartener.

A little brother, a big brother.

A middle child.

Writer of names and random pronouns.

Reader of Dr. Seuss, Mo Willems, and whoever wrote all those stupid Star Wars books.

Lover and love of everyone around him.

Beautiful face, beautiful heart.

Energetic boy. Sweet boy. Our boy.

This boy.

We love you, Keaton.

SIX!

SIX!

Now blow out the candles on your cake... ah. shit. Well, we all know mama's not great with the numbers...

Now blow out the six candles on your cake… ah, shit. Well, we all know mama’s not that great with the numbers…

There we go. That's more like it, six year old.

There we go. That’s more like it, six year old.

Gratuitous lash picture...

Gratuitous lash picture…

Happy Birthday, Big Guy.

Happy Birthday, Big Guy.

 

{* Last two pics, Christine Welsh Photography, First three pics, Christina “I can’t count to six” Gunter Photography}

Thirty days and we’re DONE. It was a long, late-night road but I managed one post a day for thirty {one!} days and yes I am drinking a celebratory beer at 5:30 whatofit?

Truth be told, I know that I’ve outgrown this space as a writer, but I love looking back and reading about what life was like with three year old Rowan and one year old Keaton so I know one day I’ll be grateful I stuck with it, even minimally so, to record Ezra’s first years on planet Earth.

It gets harder and harder to share Keaton’s stories and it’s damn near impossible for me to navigate through Rowan’s because I know these words will one day affect them. When I was making all the choices and calling all the shots from what activities/shampoo/cereal/books/clothes/etc they consumed, I felt like their story was my story, but that line is getting awfully blurry now so if this blog seems like The Ezra Show, it is not because my older two babies don’t continue to make me laugh, learn, bang my head against the wall and love to the fullest every day, it’s because they are beginning to lead their own way, to tell their own stories and I need to back off a little bit.

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11.30.2

This blog is so so tiny. Only a handful of people outside of my family still read it and that is the way I’ve designed it because I just want to be careful about who consumes how I write my children. To be truthful, I’m really not worried about ruining their lives, they have a healthy sense of dry humor and they know how much I love them. What I want is for them to one day appreciate that their mom is a human being instead of a cranky robot who just says NO and CLEAN THAT SHIT UP all the time. And these pages will hopefully show them this and for that I’m very grateful.

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I’d write more but, Internet? I am hosting over twenty people tomorrow to celebrate {TO THE MAAAAAAAAAXXXXX} Keaton’s birthday. Year five of NaBloPoMo is done. A big thanks to those who cheered me on through facebook comments and likes and to those who hid me, I solemnly promise I’ll quit incessantly linking here because even though I’m proud of my family and think it’s good for me to share my writing to keep me practiced {in curse words, if nothing else}, I don’t like bombing the newsfeed everyday just so you all can see what mess I’ve gotten myself into this time. So! I’m going to finish this beer and scrub a floor or two. Or maybe just sit on the couch and snuggle with my babies in front of the newly decorated tree. Who’s gonna look at my floors anyway? {Answer? Now everyone probably will because I just told them they’ll be really dirty. This is why I’m terrible at the Internet.}

Now here, let me leave you with a picture of a baby and a candy cane to start the Christmas season:

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It was conferences this week! You wanna know how much fun it is to bring a mobile, nap-skipping baby into classrooms with thousands of things to destroy and/or choke on? SUPER FUN. The only major snafu was when Ezra’s milk cup exploded all over Bill, the baby and the classroom floor in a spectacular geyser of coconut milk. I’m pretty sure we won’t be invited back to 2nd grade unless we have proof of a babysitter first. It is now time for you to sit back {or, uh, slowly back away by means of the handy x button} and enjoy reading about my two oldest precious little snowflakes…

First up we have Keaton, Sir:

This little guy’s report surprised me the most. I know it’s not fair to pigeon-hole your kids but if I WERE to do that, Rowan would definitely be my academic child and Keaton would be our… wiggly… uh… funny…. uh… sports-ball child. I think that about sums it up nicely. He always got great reports in preschool and was always put in the more accelerated learning groups but I guess I sort of thought that he was placed there because his teachers had Rowan as well and maybe just assumed Keaton was similar.

I know. I’m a terrible mother. But in my defense Keaton has never had the patience to sit still and work for long periods. Getting this kid to sit for a story was impossible until he was four and even now he jumps around and plays invisible swords when I read him chapters of Harry Potter. He loses interest and gets bored easily and always defaults to some physical activity involving swordplay or barrel rolls.

So imagine my surprise when his reading assessment revealed he was already working on the end of the year goal list. I have been trying to make an effort for him to read to me but man.. reading with a beginning five year old is just plain exhausting. He gets so tired halfway through that he just turns off by the end of it, making guesses instead of reading tougher words and sounding out words like “is” and “the” when he has had them memorized for months.

I really need to find some shorter books for him because I think he would get more confident if he could read in shorter bursts. I’ve tried the whole, I’ll read a page, you read a page thing, or only reading a few pages a night but the payoff just isn’t there for him then and he ends up crabby about the whole thing. I need something like the Biscuit books but more challenging and maybe with a little more stimulating subject matter. He loves Gerald and Piggy {and really, who doesn’t} but he’s read them all so many times that he doesn’t even need to open the dang book to recite the story. Of course he always wants Star Wars books but those suckers have super tricky words so I end up reading half of it for him. Right now the best ones for him are the more simple Dr. Suess ones. He can read The Foot Book, One Fish Two Fish and The Cat in the Hat and green Eggs and Ham with very minimal help from me. I’m really proud of his hard work and was so happy and surprised at how well he is progressing in reading.

Other than that? Kindergarten and Keaton are getting along swimmingly. He was sososo ready to go and really hasn’t skipped a beat since September once he adjusted to the much longer days. He loves his teacher, and absolutely adores being around people all day. I honestly don’t know how I produced SUCH a people person but wow is he ever. This is the kid I have to bribe to just gooooo beeee byyyy youseeeeelf for fiiiiiiiiive minuuuuutes, pleeeeeease. He would never ever be/play/sleep/eat do anything alone if he could help it, so school is a blessing because there are 29 other kids plus a handful of teachers he gets to spread all that love around to.

He has a half-day once a week which has been our time. I’ve tried to make it as special as I can so I pack a lunch and take him to various parks, make trips to the library or come home and play board games. Unfortunately once Ezra switches to an afternoon nap we’re going to have to switch Keaton to full-day 5 days a week which will be good for him but I’m really going to miss my time with my big guy.

Now that winter is at our doorstep, I know I have to get him involved in an outside activity. Unfortunately it just wasn’t feasible time or money-wise to keep him in dance this year. It’s been sad because he really loved it but with the dramatic increase in hours he spent at school it was the best choice for him at this point. We’re hoping to get him back enrolled in either the all boys dance group or karate and he’ll start a little basketball clinic and swimming lessons in January so that should keep him active over the coldest winter months. All-in-all it’s been a bang-up start to his formative school years.

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Now for Little Miss Rowan:

As I mentioned, academics are never an issue for this kid so we don’t really worry. She is very close to being a Step 12 reader which is where the reading assessment ends {typically for end of the year third graders}. THIS IS WHERE THE BRAGGING COMES IN, if that wasn’t clear. Because I’m solely responsible for this, right? Me, the 7 year old who still couldn’t read simple sentences. Whose first grade teacher took pity on me and kept me in for recess to give extra help. I got it eventually and when I did I soared, I loved reading… but I was no Rowan. Her comprehension is phenomenal. She’ll read and {this is important} understand pretty much anything you lay in front of her.

We asked her teacher for a few reading suggestions because she absolutely devours books so quickly that I have a hard time keeping her challenged, but by the fourth or fifth one she suggested to our responses of “yep, she like that one” “read it” and “Yeah, she’s finished the whole series”, Bill was like, see! this is exactly our problem. She was stumped for a minute or two but after a good laugh she thought of a few titles Rowan has yet to read so the girl should be set for a while.

We moved on to math, where Rowan has bounced back and then some from last year. In first grade she was put in the most fast-paced math group and she struggled big time with the timed homework. They had 5 minutes to finish 100ish problems and it was really overwhelming for her. She spent the whole year getting more and more nervous about it until the end when she just quit trying all together. This kid had ended the first semester report with a strong “meets expectations” and by the end of the year she got the lowest score possible. When I talked with her teacher, who had left on maternity leave a few weeks before the end of the year, she was sure Rowan would bounce back fine, and thought the low assessment scores were due to the disruption of her leaving {Rowan was very close to this teacher and was not happy to be getting a sub}.

When we saw she was placed in the middle instead of the top math group at the start of this year we were relieved. The pressure and the pace was just too much for her very careful, perfectionist personality. She definitely has her confidence back. We did have one issue, however. The 64 question timed homework is the same sheet of  problems in the same order which they get about four times a week. They have 5 minutes to finish the sheet and seemingly overnight Rowan went from finishing in 4 and a half minutes to finishing in two and a half. “WOW, Rowan! That was quick!” “I know, Mom! Aren’t you proud!” “Yes! I can’t believe how much faster you’re doing these!” “Oh! It’s easy! See, the answers are always the same! So I know to just write 6,4 18, 7, 3, 15, 2…” “Uh… aren’t you reading the problem? “Why would I read the problem when I can just memorize the order of the answers?” “Oh, Rowan. I don’t think that’s how you’re supposed to do it.” “Why WOULDN’T you do it that way, it’s way easier!” *so much head-shaking* Sure enough, the next time she did the sheet I watched her carefully and she blew through the first three lines, having memorized the answers. Needless to say, I notified the teacher of this, um, tactic, for homework completion, and she said, “Huh. that’s the only sheet they offer because they want the kids to see the equation and immediately associate the answer. I always wondered if kids figured out that they were always the same.” Yep. Leave it to our kid. Lovely.

Last year was a tougher year friend-wise for Rowan because of the dynamic of her particular class. Unfortunately Rowan got drawn into this mid-year a bit because she really liked a few of the girls so she tried to play “the game” of who is allowed to play with who and on what day but after way too many mean-girl tactics {in FIRST grade. Seriously.} she had to give up on the group which was a tough call she made herself and she moved on to a smaller group of drama-free girls which she has very happily stuck with ever since. Thankfully this year has been awesome and her teacher said that even though she definitely has a few close friends she spends most of her free time with, she is a good friend to all her classmates and well-liked.

She has even become somewhat of a mentor to the kids who struggle. She has noticed since starting at this school that her teachers often sit her next to the kids who need a little extra help. Once and a while she’ll get frustrated by this if her seat partner is a little too rambunctious but she understands it’s because she can stay on task and be a helper even if there is a little chaos around her {this is a complete 180 from how she was when she first started school at five, she couldn’t handle ANY disruption}. One boy in particular has been having a hard time but since her teacher sat him next to Rowan, she has taken him under her wing and he’s been really benefiting from her friendship, and she really likes him as well.

This is one more reason I love this school so much. They are so big into positive attitude, reinforcement and character building as well as academics. And listen, kids are still kids. Mine make dumb mistakes all the time. They can be jerks to Bill and I and jerks to each other… we all have our days. But they are learning some valuable things about not just being a good student but about being a good person and that I’m really thankful for.

Other than that, it’s dancedancedance for this lady. She’s struggled a little bit to keep up with the flexibility and acro moves which caused a rough start this year. She kept thinking she there was just no way she would ever get them, but then, she just…did it, and no one was more surprised than her. The look on her face when came back upright after her first walk-over was “oh shit! did that just happen?!” It was pretty priceless to witness after months of failed-attempts. She has a great group of girls in her line who she really likes and has become close to one in particular so that was a big help getting through the toughest parts, but I think she’s now officially turned the corner from the “no I can’ts” to the “welp, it’s gonna be a lot of work but I know I cans”.

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There you have it! These two have done such a great job. After we got the report cards, we told them we’d take them out to a fancy family dinner. “Because we’re so smart?” Keaton asked, and I had to say, NOPE. I loved all the 3s and 4s on their report cards, but it was what we saw in the teacher’s comments that got them a crab and lobster dinner. Compassionate, good friend, role model, helper. Proud doesn’t begin to cover it.

My turkeys…

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Jammies, parade and couch snuggles all morning. I like the food as much as the next guy, but this, THIS, is the best part of Thanksgiving.

I’m sure all around the country moms with social media access are putting their kids’ versions of this out there but MY girl child is obviously the most clever and funny {and really sort of disturbing} so I’m going to just leave this here and pray for the turkey population {and youth} of America…

How to Cook a Turkey

“First, you go to Target to get the big turkey. Next, turn on the oven. Then wash the turkey. After that, season the turkey. Last, cook for four hours finally dig in!”

Wow. I really love that she is shopping for turkeys at Target. She knows her mama well… if someone sent me out to get a turkey I’d probably wander to Target and get lost in the lotion aisle where I would frantically text Bill “I don’t see any turkeys but Burt’s Bees is on sale!”. {Also, I was going to make fun of the whole “wash the turkey” thing but then I panicked… maybe you DO wash turkeys, I really wouldn’t know. You certainly dress them so I guess it makes sense. I’m just gonna shut up now.}

How to Make a Pumpkin Pie

“First, you go to Cub to get your canned pumpkin, whip cream and crust. {She really hit all the major parts of the pie, no?} Next we stir the ingredients in a bowl. Now, we pour the mixture in the crust pan. Last put your unbaked pie in the oven for one hour. In the end, feast and injoy!”

I’m gonna injoy the shit out of that pie.

How to Help A Turkey Escape From Thanksgiving Dinner

“First, you must find a turkey and ask him if you can help. If you can, ask him what you will need to help. Next, you will need a pumpkin pie and a net that can hang in a tree. Then, you will need to make a plan. Last, wait until the person reaches for the pie and then run away and eat the turkey yourself.”

Um… wha… what? Did my child just bait with a pie, then trap in a net the person who was supposed to kill the turkey, making the bird believe he was saved and then EAT THE TURKEY HERSELF? Oh god. I think I’m raising a sociopath. One who knows you have to make a plan. That’s comforting.

And lastly,

How to Make a Turkey Your Pet

“First, you have to find an alive turkey. {So not the one she was supposed to help escape then, because she ate him.} Then you must find tape and clamp the turkey’s beak shut and wrap his claws in cloth. {WHAT?!} Next, you must tame him so you must teach him how to sit, talk and dance like a popstar. {…} Last, you must dress him in popstar clothes. In the end, he will be up on the stage dancing.”

Wow. Well, I’m pretty sure she just described the origin of Miley Cyrus so we can all rest easy knowing she is not in fact, a culture-appropriating provocateur but instead someone’s pet turkey. What a relief! Thanks for clearing this up, Rowan.

Lucky 13

Before I dive into Ezra’s monthly blah blah I just want to describe to you the moment I just had… My blood started pumping so hard it filled my head, my palms became clammy and my hands started shaking. My chest went tight and I felt like I could feel every single hair on my entire body as I tried to catch my breath. Slowly I attempted to regulate my breathing as I clutched my pounding head in my hands, the only thought swirling around in there… my god. I’m going to have a highly mobile, non-verbal 13 month old and a Christmas tree in my house at the same time for 5 weeks.

AND THEN I DIED.

Which I’m actually quite thankful for because death is a far easier thing to deal with than a baby, that I just know will figure out how to scale the gate I will inevitably have to put up, whose main goal in life will be to take that tree OUT. He will maim the branches. Pull off the needles and eat them. He will get too close, poke his eye and then cry like it was the tree’s fault. Then he will get mad and try to hit the tree but when that won’t prove satisfying he will try to push it and when he realizes the branches just spring back, only to hit him in the face again, he will charge that sucker in a fit of horrifying toddler rage and knock it over. Or he might just look at it suspiciously, like what’s this giant pokey green thing doing in my house and then largely ignore it. I’m betting on option one though and wow, I am feeling all of the fear now, just ALL OF IT.

Alright, time to reanimate so I can throw some bullet points up about mini-budders month of twelve, stepping away from the inviting, warm, glowing orb of light in 3…2…1…

11.26.1

This month in Ezra!

* The biggest change for our guy was the room swap which I think he’s adjusting to fairly well. Unfortunately we did this at sort of a crappy time for him developmentally as he was definitely starting a sleep regression, getting ready to drop a nap and cutting his molars. It was either now or after Christmas though and I really just wanted to get the whole mess out of the way before the holidays. He’s had a few rough nights but it hasn’t seemed to impact the older two at all and most times the wake-ups can be resolved with a simple re-corking of the nuk.

11.26.3

*naps. Ah, naps, BANE of my existence. Since he was nine months old, Ezra has been insistent on napping right at 9:30am after a 6:15 wake up. Since he is so spotty on whether he’ll then follow that early morning nap with a late afternoon nap, I have been trying since September to push back the morning nap. This would give him a more balanced spread of awake time~ that 7 hour stretch of no nap is very rough on all of us. He would NOT have it though. If I tried to push the nap back any more than 20 minutes he would lose his ever-loving mind, and then when he would fall asleep he’d only go down for 45 minutes instead of his regular 2-2.5 hour rest and then still refuse the afternoon nap. Forty-five minutes of sleep during a 13 hour stretch for an infant is not a sustainable schedule. Of course now this week, that of the holiday in which I need him to sleep in the morning otherwise wreak havoc all over our Thanksgiving plans, is the time he chooses to skip the morning nap in favor of reaching over and banging the wood blinds against the window frame and giggling maniacally for 40 minutes until I finally give up and pull him out. He of course went down smoothly at 12:30pm, exactly the time we need to be out of the house and on our way to a day of family stuffs. GAH, this is stressing me out.

11.26.4

* Teeth! After getting 8 teeth between 6.5 and 9 months we had a blessed break until last weekend. He came home from his grandparents’ house with a fever of about 100 and a runny nose which sent me into a panic because of the upcoming holiday and the fact that he had just gotten over a stupid cold that lasted over two weeks. He woke up a number of times that night, needing tylenol, a cuddle and a nuk but by the morning the fever had vanished and in its place I felt the corner of a branny-new molar poking through. UGHUGHUGHUGHUGH. As you may recall, molars are my least favorite things about toddlers. It’s gonna be a fun few months.

11.26.2

{*This photo series brought to you by dumdums, aka: the only way to get a baby to sit still for more than three seconds.}

* Food. Everything gives him a damn rash around his lips. EVERYTHAAAAAANG. We have to put petroleum jelly around his mouth before and after every meal and even then he still gets red and irritated. Before nap and bed times he also gets either a prescription strength hydrocortisone or a combo of lotrimin, neosporin and regular hydrocortisone, which may lessen the redness and irritation briefly but it certainly hasn’t helped to heal it.

We can’t figure out one thing as the cause. He reacts to carrots, citrus and tomato, it definitely gets worse when he is teething and really really bad when he has any dairy. Do you know what toddlers live off of? Whole milk. That makes this whole “keeping the kid alive thing” a little trickier. As if one child with a dairy problem wasn’t enough, now we have a second. I just don’t get it. Bill and I ate ALL THE THINGS when we were little and neither had any food sensitivities or allergies. We exposed all our kids to a variety of foods at appropriate times to minimize the chances and Rowan, my picky child, remains completely food allergy free. The boys would eat anything but can’t and it is maddening too have to pay over seven freaking dollars for a package of dairy-free cookies or snacks. This week his mouth flared up so bad he looked like The Joker, so I finally broke down and am committing to a month of dairy free for him, let the vanilla flavored coconut milk commence. He does still breastfeed twice daily. I was able to drop the before-bed feeding with no problem for him or myself. His need for a morning and afternoon feeding is still pretty strong so I’ll just be following his cues on when he wants to wean from that.

11.26.6

* Ezra has gone from new drunk baby walk to stealthy, speedy drunk baby walk. He still stumbles at times but he can go FAST, and now rarely, if ever, breaks out into a crawl. {RIP cute and creepy baby franken-crawl, I will miss you.} Now that walking is fairly mastered he has started to move on to climbing. Lord help me, Internet.

11.26.5

* Language. Welp. Not much progress was made this month. He makes a vaguely familiar sound when he’s trying to say a word, like “guk” for his rubber duck, “sss sssk” for sock and other similar things but he still doesn’t say anything discernible. The exception being thank you which is a relatively easier to understand “tink ye” as he hands you toy after toy. No intentional ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ or ‘more’ or ‘uppy’ even though we repeat the words and use the baby signs all day long. Listen kid, I think it’s highly adorable you’re trying so hard to say the name of your ducky but maybe let’s focus on something more practical like “up” so you can stop trying to wedge your body between me and whatever I’m standing next to so that you can hang off my shirt and scream. Forming a u and a p sounds with your mouth seems so much easier than these shenanigans.

His sound effects repertoire has become very impressive though and his receptive language and ability to follow instructions continues to grow every day. He is also starting to point much more than he was last month so I’m holding out hope this doesn’t turn into a ‘thing’. {And I know there are tons of you out there with kids that didn’t make a peep until 18 months or later but when your other two kids were absolute motor-mouths at this age… well, the difference is huge and worth paying attention to.}

11.26.7

To sum up, at 12 months Ezra loved: Meowing, walking, dance parties with his siblings, brushing his teeth, baths, snuggling blanky, eating cake, going to the playground, raiding the cupboards, sneaking into the bathroom to inspect the wastebasket and remove anything he didn’t think should be thrown away {i.e dirty kleenex} and removing and hiding his socks. {Where are all the damn socks baby? No, seriously, you only have one and a half pairs left.}

11.26.9

This month has been one of your most adventurous ones yet. It’s been SO fun to watch you explore the world on two feet. One of my favorite things to do this month was to bundle you up, set you on the sidewalk and just let you go. Seeing your little body bob up and down as you carefully lifted your feet in a kind of slow-paced, very deliberate march, filled my heart up to the very top. You are so happy outside {in the wild. Yep, this is total foreshadowing of your personality isn’t it?} that I’m a little frightened of being trapped indoors with you for the next 5-6 months. We’ll get through though {if the Christmas tree doesn’t kill mommy} {again} and I can’t wait to see you racing up and down those sidewalks come spring. We love you, pal.

11.26.8

So! Look who learned a new skill while I was cleaning off his high chair after lunch! I don’t want to be all *NEWSFLASH* Against all odds, small child hoists himself up by his boot {one moccasin} straps to conquer monstrous living room furniture in unforgiving conditions... But, well, I’m sort of gonna be like that…

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This wouldn’t be a big deal if he knew how to correctly dismount the couch when it was time. When Ezra is on my bed with me he knows to slither down the side feet first but something about the couch just screams HEAD FIRST! to him which yields unpleasant results. He’ll learn. This little guy is a smartypants to the first degree but in the meantime… it’s gonna be a bruise filled few weeks. I’m thinking of just lining the floor with pillows until he turns three.