Letters to Holden

October 16, 2014

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Dear Holden,

Where we are now is different from the last time I wrote you a letter, as was the time before that and the time before that. The changes and transitions have been a natural process- though sometimes challenging. However, nowadays it seems like a solid routine for you even though there’s business all around. I watch you grow, learn, and explore. You’ve become a child, a young, resilient child with a need of nothing more than to be a child– to play, to wonder, to ask, to be loved… but also to make mistakes, to get in trouble, to figure things out. Whenever you come sobbing to me, know that all I want to do is shelter you, to cuddle you, and tell you the world is made of rainbows, and that everything that makes you upset in those moments are bad, and that you’re good and no matter what you do, you’ll always be good. And yes, sometimes I do carry that out… it all depends on the situation. Sometimes you do need to cry and be a child. But sometimes crying it out like in a temper tantrum when you don’t get what you want such as that 6th cookie when you didn’t eat your dinner is another situation. These are the times we guide you, I guide you, Kick guides you, aids in molding you in your learning. It used to be hard, difficult to tell you no, but now it’s not as difficult. Because we know that you have the capacity now to know better, and the capacity to learn starts to exist next to the sole capacity of to be valued. There’s a balance… there’s knowing when to coddle and support you, and there’s knowing when telling you “yes” is the wrong thing to do. Because at the end of the day we ask ourselves, “what does our behavior, my behavior as a mother, teach you about the world, about others, and finally about yourself?”

My guilt still remains. As I watch myself add up the hours on my time sheets of the experiences I need in order to get where I’m going, I’m both proud of the work and quantity of work I’ve done, but I know that those hours are exchanged for time that we could be spending together. Those type of hours feel minimal for this time being, but the quality being spent is what matters. However, it’s a lot easier for mommy nowadays knowing that you are exactly where you need to be– in a loving environment enriched with experiences waiting to be had by you, where you will learn how to be and how to act and what to say when you become your own person, independent of your parents. It’s happening already. And when I get to hold you in my arms or see you sleeping when I get home from class late at night, I smile as I look at you. Sometimes I catch myself just watching you, wondering what all goes on in that big head of yours beneath all that golden fluff, but also what you feel in your heart to be good, and what you feel in your heart to be not so good either. One of my hopes for you in your life is that you learn to trust both in order to make any decision. Right now making a decision is a funny concept. You need immediacy, you need impulsivity… and you can have that because you just need to be a child… just not an excessive amount. That’s not going to last forever either.

Mommy and Kick got married this summer and we became a family, though we knew we had that connection, the three of us all along. There you stood right between us, other times kicking the dirt or removing your clothes during the ceremony, but present nonetheless. There for the moment that it did all become a future, a real future with love and support and a direction. I can’t wait to watch the video with you 20 years from know and we’ll laugh at how funny you were during such a pivotal moment in our lives. You and Kick have quite the bond, that is apparent. Before Kick left on his last hunting trip, you fell in love with his new flashlight. You did everything you could to keep that flashlight. And I did everything I could to not break out in laughter when you looked at my tearfully with your lip quivering and asked, “but when kick coming home?!” We ended up not giving in and Kick took that flashlight on his trip… or so we thought. That day he left we got home later in the afternoon to find the flashlight sitting on your pillow with a note from Kick about having fun looking for monsters with that flashlight while he was gone. Your face was priceless, and that was a moment I will never let Kick forget.

We will (hopefully) be moving into our new house in December! It’s been quite the party living at Lula and Papa’s house since Easter as we embarked on this new dream of owning some land space. Of course, when we walked this property and spotted the treehouse, I knew in my heart this would be the one for us. I can’t wait to let you explore it and create memories. I can’t wait to let you be a kid there and be outside. I can’t wait to sit on the porch swing and have sweet tea in the summer. I can’t wait to read books in the “secret hideout” before tucking you in at night. We are all excited for what’s to come.

Halloween is around the corner and we already have gotten you a Batman costume, but you however keep changing your mind– one day it was a “flying long-neck”. We will see what happens with that! Right now you’re just enjoying whatever experience you’ll take. Sometimes on the weekends I’ll ask you what you want to do seeing what you come up with. You think about it for a few minutes as you say “ummm…” and search all the possibilities that exist up there in your head before grabbing one. But, no matter what we do, it’s evident that you are one happy child. So it is reassuring to me that we’re doing something right.

I loved you yesterday, I love you today, and I will love you tomorrow.

Love,

Mommy

Three Years Old

January 30, 2014

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Dear Holden,

It’s been long enough since my last letter to you on here. These past 6 months have been a huge transition for us. I went back to graduate school with the support of everyone who loves us. This meant less and less time together, our two peas in a pod became about 5 in a pod on any given day. I felt some serious guilt during those first few weeks of this big transition. Our routine was interrupted, I felt like we didn’t see each other as much as we needed, or I needed I guess. You were probably doing just fine. A transition is a change nontheless, and if there’s one big whopping negative that’s been instilled within me since you’ve been born is guilt. Probably self-induced but guilt anyway. Guilt that I couldn’t quite overcompensate for anything you had been missing in my eyes. We can talk about that another time. Months passed by though and our new routine is now in place.

You were the only other person there when Kick asked mommy to marry him back in October. You were the one who asked, actually. Your shirt he had made for you read “Can Kick be my step-dad?” It was in your playroom. An ordinary Wednesday night after I finished a midterm. It was perfect and you knew something special was happening. For days following when people asked what Kick did for mommy, you’d show them “one knee” and get down on one knee and smile.

I can’t quite ever put into words who you are right now. I can tell you what your likes and dislikes are, the funny stories I have about you. But who you are and who you are becoming put me at a loss for words. Now more than ever I have come to realize what a person you are- your own person unlike anyone else that’s graced this earth. That in itself makes me speechless. I love watching you in all your splendor.

A few weeks ago you had your second set of tubes put in your ears. We have been working on your speech as you continue to go to therapy twice a week before school. You are starting to put things together and talk so much. There are times when you say things and I just laugh for minutes. You look at me and wonder why because all you know you’re doing is saying what is on your mind. Like last week when you were sitting on the toliet and looked down your pajama top and said, “Hey! I see my pee pee down there!” Or last night when we were going through our normal bedtime routine and after we had gone through our rounds of questions and answers about who loves you, your final note to me was “I just wove movie theaters.”

There are times I have to constantly remind myself you are only three. Sometimes parenting gets in the way, pressure upon my shoulders to mold you into one compassionate human being. Instilling within you values and a conscience. So easily you remind me where you are developmentally, what you can handle physically, cognitively, just in a matter of a few words. One day you will be able to completely encompass all that I want for you, all that you deserve. Right now we are just training.

We had your birthday celebration all weekend long pretty much. Thursday night Lula and Papa had a big dinner at their house for you with a firetruck cake (you love firemen, policemen, ambulances right now). On Friday, your actual birthday, we spent the whole day together doing special things. You were exhausted and I knew I pushed you too hard because you were so crabby. I just wanted to make your day special. We spent the morning at Lil Bambinos, went to lunch at Which Which, and took you to Toys R Us to pick out a present. You had been pretty sick with a cold all weekend unfortunately. Sunday we had a small celebration at Chuck E Cheese, one of your favorite places.

I can’t help but be so proud of you. You are so sweet tempered. Observational. Your sense of right and wrong is really developing. You’re very funny, more funny than I could ever try to be. You are one beautiful child too. I love you more than you’ll ever know… Every night I ask you when we tuck you in if you know that you’re my favorite person in the whole world. You smile and nod your head. I then ask you if you know that I would do anything for you. Papa asked mommy that every day growing up. You smile and nod your head. I hope you really know that.

Love you my sweet boy,

Mommy

Two and a half

July 23, 2013

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Dear Holden,

I figured since you just turned two-and a half it was time for another letter. We have had quite the busy summer! You attended your first Swollfest in Grand Isle, LA in early June where you loved to dance to all the bands, see big “fifies” come in through the marina, and indulge in many sno-balls. June concluded with a trip to Omaha for the CWS to cheer on Papa’s team. You enjoyed flying the charter plane and were served warm chocolate chip cookies and milk and breakfast from Chic-fil-E. Hopefully you don’t remember this on your next flight.

This summer you also began your new school at St. Aloysius, which you have grown to love over the last few weeks. Mommy feels guilty for sending you there early, but wanted to make your transition easier. Hopefully you forgive me. You bring home lots of beautiful artwork every day. Even though school has been a positive move, you come home so tired and can barely have dinner before you’re ready for a bath and bed. Sometimes mommy pushes you too hard and takes you for a swim at Lula and Papa’s house. The thing you love most though is to strip down naked in the backyard and run around and splash in your baby pool.

You still attend speech therapy once a week with Miss Allison. You are talking so very much, but it is still a little difficult for anyone to understand most of your words if they aren’t around you all the time. We are working on it though- the positive thing is that you are vocalizing so much. And especially singing. How you love to sing and dance. But sometimes you don’t let mommy sing with you. You want to do it all by yourself, like most things, and especially in the car on the way to school. Elmo’s “Little Butterfly Friend” is one of your favorites. I love to hear you hum along and try to pronounce all the words. You have picked up most songs, and in the least are able to annunciate the last word of every line.

This summer you really have seem to sprout. You are getting so big and seem to have turned from a toddler into a little boy practically overnight. Your tantrums don’t occur too often, but when they do, they sure are bad. It’s hard for mommy to physically control you since you are so big and strong… so sometimes I have to walk away. You’ll calm down on your own, and return to mommy with a smile thats covered in runny boogers. I clean you up and we move on.

We sure are moving on, you and me. Two for the price of one. Some pretty important people have come into our life within the last year, and we are blessed that so many people love you so much.

Just like mommy does.

Love,

Mommy

May 1, 2013

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Dear Holden,

Much time has passed since my last letter to you, but my love for you has not dwindled. You have kept me so busy and happy day after day.

Papa’s season is in full swing and it’s your favorite time of year. You can’t wait to get to his games and cheer on the “IGAHS!” You do not sit for more than a minute each game- always wandering around, getting candy from the ushers and fans who all know you, hopping down the steps, climbing the railings and much more. You average about half a hot dog, half a coke, and 5 lollipops a game. Always wearing your baseball jersey that you have on in the picture above. The first night you wore that thing, it was covered in catchup and all sorts of other grime, mommy had to take it off you and you screamed as if you were being tortured. So proud of your jersey!

Mother’s Day Out is coming to a end with your last day in a couple of weeks. After going two mornings a week since September, I can really see how it has played a role in your happiness and development. It only took a month for you to adjust to going, and after that you couldn’t wait to run down the hall to be with your class and two wonderful teachers, Miss Jody and Miss Dawn. You always have a freshly painted piece of artwork for mommy when I pick you up. I am so proud of you. In June, you’re going to be starting full-time at St. Aloysius. Too early for mommy, but not too early for you- you are very social, and interacting with all the kids is just what you need and want. However, you are still only two and I will need you to play hookie some days with mommy so we can have dates to the park, liberty lagoon, or the zoo. Hope that’s okay.

A few weeks ago you had to undergo surgery to have tubes put in your ears and another surgery I won’t disclose on my public blog. Kill two birds with one stone. Having you go under anesthesia for the first time wasn’t easy for mommy to see, but I knew you’d be back to your normal self in a few days. Also, you were in good hands with Dr. Andy and Dr. Carter. The tubes have improved your overall temperament and speech tenfold. Mommy is sorry she waited so long to have the surgery, but I thought antibiotics were the best way to go for a while. I always try to to what’s best for you, and sometimes it just takes time to figure it out. That’s parenthood.

You are still in speech therapy with Miss Allison, now twice a week. I boosted up your appointments as you only have a month of time left before going to school. The tubes have helped tremendously, but we are still behind in talking. However, your vocabulary words have been multiplying. Though, only a few people really understand what you’re saying. You are getting there though! Still no sentences, but lots of one words.

Your current favorites are Elmo, Barney, Mickey Mouse, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. You broke the DVD player in the car one morning when I found 2 DVDs stuck in the console. Mommy will get it fixed soon. You don’t go a day without wanting to play baseball, or “BAY-BAH!” You drink lots of milk, or “PUP.” I still haven’t figured out how that’s your word for milk. But it’s funny and cute. You still love broccoli, mac and cheese, and hot dogs. You always have been a pretty good eater but you go in and out of hunger episodes. Some days, it’s like I can’t feed you enough. Other days, I’m lucky to get a noodle in.

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 Your personality is rapidly unveiling itself. You are strong-willed, smart, and hilarious. All you want to do is be a boy and play. Mostly play outside. You can kill people with your smile and laugh. Your voice is deep and toned. You are starting to look more like a little boy, growing taller and thinning out. Though, you still have really big calves. I can’t wrap my hands around them. Everyone says you’ve got catcher’s legs. How you love baseball.

I’m only able to write this letter because you’re sleeping in after a long night at Papa’s field. Hence the above picture, taken last night by your awesome babysitter, Mallory. Thanks for giving mommy some mommy time this morning.

Potty training is around the corner.

Love,

Mommy

December 27, 2012

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Dear Holden,

I told you it was time for mommy to leave and you quickly waved byebye to me. It was as if you were saying, “It’s okay for you to go now mom, I’m fine.”

Christmas was going to be hard for mommy this year. You weren’t going to wake up Christmas morning in your crib, in your house. You’d be in Houston for the week of Christmas.

First holiday without my baby. I knew I wasn’t going to share the holiday with you and this really saddened me; but I was moreso saddened knowing you’d be without me for a full week. This would be the first time for that amount of time. The longest I’d been apart from you up until now was 48 hours.

You are strong, happy, and a busy explorer. I got to see you about an hour on Christmas day to wish you a Merry Christmas. I was relieved to see you busy with your new toys. I knew you were just as happy as you were a couple days before when I had to drop you off.

It’s easier now you know, as a toddler. These visitations.

A couple weeks ago I took you down to Ft. Lauderdale to visit your Great-Nanie and Great-Poppie. You light up their life. I’m glad we got to spend quality time together. And now it’s a tradition, two years in the making. The first week of December gets to be shared with them.

We celebrated Christmas at home a week before, so all of us could be there for you. You were beyond spoiled with toys, but more spoiled with love as you are every day. There are so many people who love you, and for that I’m so thankful.

Lula got you a mini Ford F-150, just like your friend Nick’s. To watch the joy come across your face as it was driven in was more than I could handle. You LOVE driving. It’s gonna take some more time for you to figure this one out though. I’m fine with you just sitting in it for now with your big cheesey smile.

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Mommy gave you her presents throughout the month of December. I couldn’t help it… too excited. You were also with me when we bought half of them so I couldn’t keep them from you anyway.

For the past few weeks you have been seeing Miss Allison the speech therapist twice a week. The talking teacher is what Papa calls her. I sit behind a transparent mirror and get to watch each 45 minute session as Miss Allison massages your mouth and tries to get you to communicate. It’s not that you don’t talk, well yes it is. But you do communicate, just not in words. I know what every noise or sound means that you make, but everyone else doesn’t and so that’s what we’re working on. Miss Allison says you can completely comprehend everything, which I knew. Whew. You’re just a late talker- probably because there are no other kids in the picture you need to compete with to get what you want, because you’re given everything you want before you have to ask, and well, because boys just take more time. Oh, and you’re pretty stubborn. This is the conclusion I’ve come up with.

Though, it never fails. As we’re heading out to the car after a not-so-successful therapy session, a mail-truck goes by, and with all your might you scream “MAI-MA!!!!!!” Another favorite? School bus, or, “GOOO-WAAAB!!!!!”

I just love it.

You turn 2 next month and I can’t believe it. Is it possible for time to have passed quickly and slowly at the same time? That’s surely how it seems. Here’s to hoping for more words by then!

See you soon my sweet boy.

Love,

Mommy

November 6, 2012

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Dear Holden,

Over the past few weeks we have gone on a couple more trips together, both of which more family members have come along for the ride (lucky for me). I don’t exactly think it’s getting easier to travel with you, so don’t be disappointed if your third year of life we’re not traveling all over the country like I’ve done with you thus far.

It never fails- you ALWAYS poop on the runway or during the ‘seatbelt fastened’ sign is on.

One of the trips we went to was up to Notre Dame, where mommy grew up and went to college. It was so special getting to bring you there, to a special place. I loved seeing you play in the beautiful fall leaves and hold you tight when the band was marching into the football stadium. Your first Notre Dame football weekend! And I was there. We were there together and had fun. But, the football game was during nap time, so maybe next year you’ll actually make it to a game. That is, if mommy starts traveling with you again.

You continue to be funny on a daily basis, never ceasing to make me laugh or smile. I love every minute I get with you, even when its squeezing my face so hard with your fingernails sometimes when you fight getting in the car seat. I can still laugh after that.

You currently are having a difficult time when mommy says no. Or should I say, mommy is having a difficult time when mommy says no. You don’t like to hear it. In fact, you do that exact thing I say no to all over again once you hear no. Like throwing things. You throw absolutely everything. So, I’m not quite sure what to do about that just yet. I guess I’ll figure it out.

Just recently you have come to really enjoy Mother’s Day Out, which makes me so happy and less stressed. Your teachers even tell me how much fun you had during those mornings, which I don’t doubt since you almost always fall asleep on the way home and wake up a few hours later. Thank you for that- mommy gets lots of stuff done on Tuesdays and Fridays!

Hence the reason I have time to write this letter right now.

Love,

Mommy

September 26, 2012

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Dear Holden,

We are home now after going on a busy adventure across the Midwest to visit some friends’ new baby and participate in a wedding. Nashville, Chicago, South Bend, Notre Dame (for an hour!), Angola, and back to Chicago.

You were more than a handful for mommy as you are beginning to enter your terrible two’s. In fact, the night before we left, you decided you weren’t going to be put down to bed as easily as you had been going down for a few months straight. So, this new strategy stuck every one of those 10 nights we were gone.

Aside from you wreaking havoc in all airports and all airplanes within our adventure, there are a few more highlights from the trip which include:

You locked us out of Baby Jack’s parents’ townhome. We were stuck in the back yard early (you still wake up between 6 and 7am). You, me, and the chihuahua Buddy. Christine was asleep upstairs with the newborn and we started to freeze. After repeatedly trying to pry the door open to get back in the warm living room, and also tossing rocks up to the bedroom window, mommy finally climbed on top of the grill in the back yard and tapped at the window with the broom. We went back inside.

Not a day later, you shattered one of the glass vases in the bathroom.

Almost immediately upon arriving to our hotel for the wedding weekend, you locked yourself inside the bathroom of our room and proceeded to scream bloody murder. This lasted about 20 minutes as mommy frantically tried to again, pry the door open, until a few sets of maintenance men finally rescued you. You were so upset you started to get the repeated sniffles that sounded like hiccups. And like that we were off to the rehearsal dinner.

You found a santa snowglobe in the gift shop of the hotel. Once you spotted it, there was no going back. The deathgrip on the snowglobe was more than mommy could handle, and so worth the $8.99 in cost in lieu of a tantrum. Well, that snowglobe? You also squeesed it with that same deathgrip so hard that you broke it open and the water and glitter spewed out all across your portable pack and play.

The entire day of traveling home was probably the most eventful. You yanked out many of my eyelashes in one pull while in the taxi early to O’Hare airport to catch our 2 hour flight in which you were a madman. Repeatedly pressing the flight attendant call button, throwing your pacifier at fellow travelers, of course pooping during the worst time (seatbelts fastened), and much much more miscellaneous, ornry activities. During our last taxi of the day, you became fixated on the bag of cheetos in the back seat. Unopened, thank God.

You got them.

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Yum.

Funny thing is, I’d do it all over again.

And we will.

Love,

Mommy

September 1, 2012

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Dear Holden,
 
Today Lula and I had the bright idea of taking you to the grand opening of the new L’Auberge casino in Baton Rouge. Clearly casinos are not made for children. Only one of the restaurants even allowed kids. But you had a good time. You always find a way to have a good time.
 
I dressed you in a cheesy button up flowered shirt thinking you’d fit right in with the crowd. It worked.
 
During our meal, you were asked if the waiter was hitting on mommy. Then you turned to me with your furrowed brow you get while you are confused, and hit me right in the face. “Hit mommy.” You are such a smart boy.
 
Then we got some sweet cream gelato and went home.
 
Love,
Mommy

19 months

August 17, 2012

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Dear Holden,

It’s hard to believe you are 19 months old today. You are becoming more of yourself every day and I am so in love getting to watch it happen.

Height: 31-32 inches.

Weight: Give or take a pound over 30 lbs.

Sleep: One 1-3 hour morning nap, 12-14 hours straight through the night. Where did you come from?

Likes: Elmo, Jake & the Neverland Pirates, bomb pops, your books, ice cream, sprinkles with or without ice cream, animals, especially dogs, kittens, broccoli, sweet peas, ham, chicken, anything you can dip in ketsup, trucks, Papa’s phone, mommy’s makeup, kissing the dogs, kissing Papa, kissing babies, Dora the Explorer music in the car, goldfish, smiling, laughing, Lula ‘getting’ you, dancing, running, tearing things apart, feeding the dogs, dumping the dog food into the water bowl and back and forth, gadgets, keys, buttons, hair-dryers, bath time, dumping water outside of the bathtub, fruit snacks, going pee pee on your potty seat, clapping for yourself after going pee pee on your potty seat, using your fork, clapping for yourself after using your fork, pancakes, peaches, plums, bologna, noodles, bread and butter, tortillas, cheeseballs, playing with your babysitters, flirting with girls, watching people work, trucks, checking the mail, waving to people, blowing kisses, your uncles and aunt, walking on your toes, turning on the hose, watering the flowers, spraying mommy with the hose.

Dislikes: Red meat, kissing mommy, getting in the car seat, getting out of Papa’s car, shopping.

Talents: Knowing your facial features and miscellaneous body parts that include but are not limited to: your bellybutton, knees, and hands. Also, anything that involves body strength. We call you ‘Little Hercules’.

Love,

Mommy

August 7, 2012

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Dear Holden,

I don’t know when you decided to get funny. But you’ve done it. You crack me up. You crack up lots of people. You are one in a million. Thanks for making me laugh literally all day long, and then laugh some more after you go to bed while I reminisce on how funny you were during the day.

This week you decided to pursue your creative side with some sidewalk chalk on mommy’s wall in her bedroom. I couldn’t get mad at you or erase your masterpiece. It was a milestone. 

Even though you knew you were doing something you shouldn’t be. You close me out of whatever room you’re in when you know you’re doing something bad. 

Like this… 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gR_2JHPWP8A

I hope my current inability to discipline you has no long term effects.

Just one small reason why you’re so funny. More to come.

Love,

Mommy

July 26, 2012

Dear Holden,

You have had a long week and mommy has been working a lot. I’m sad I haven’t gotten to spend every minute with you, but I promise to make it up to you this weekend. Maybe a possible trip to Liberty Lagoon if the weather is nice! You love to be outside.

The week started off with an ear infection. Caught me off guard too, because I know everything about you and am always able to tell when something is wrong. Though this time you were perfectly normal. The doctor said this is the reason why you have been slow to reiterate words since you haven’t been able to hear very well, even though you know exactly what anyone talks to you about. Not only that but you can point out every correct picture in your book of 100 first words. I think you’re just a smarty pants and you’ll talk when you want to talk. Anyway you have had many ear infections in the last year but hopefully you won’t be needing tubes. Fingers crossed!

You’ve been sleeping now for a few hours. I love watching you sleep because your sweet face and closed eyes remind me of your second night at the hospital after you were born. You suffered from jaundice right away, so about 24 hours into your life you had to stay under the lights to correct the bilirubin issue.

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Was this where your hair turned so blonde?

Anyway, when you sleep it reminds me of that night. You had to go get these treatments every three hours. Everyone advised me to sleep while you were in the nursery those hours but I couldn’t do it. I stayed awake thinking about you or would come watch you through the window. I was so excited when I got to bring you back to the recovery room to spend time together. Pushing you in your little cart back to the room, I was overwhelmed with this sense of peace and felt the love from my toes through my fingers. It was more than being in love I think.

Sometimes you would sleep, but sometimes your eyes would just wander around not focusing on anything really. Just taking in whatever you could. Those times that you did sleep though, that face you made is the same face you have when you sleep now. Lips pressed tightly together. Your skin is so fair that your purple veins on your eyelids make it look like eyeshadow. Your nostrils sometimes open and close too. Like when I do it to make you laugh and you scrunch your nose and try to do it to. Well you do that in your sleep so you actually CAN do it.

It’s funny that you look so much like those beginning moments though because your looks have changed so much since then. In fact, they change every day. Every day a new mannerism or expression I know I haven’t seen before. You’re growing so quickly. Can’t wait to see you in the morning.

Love,

Mommy

July 17, 2012

Before I begin the letters… here’s a quick side note.

I have yet to feature in full the most important person in my life, and so I think it’s only appropriate to dedicate this post to him on the day of his 18 month birthday. 18 months already? Time flies.

18 months and 13 of them have been spent in Baton Rouge, home.

Remember how I mentioned earlier I will do my best to describe someone as an ongoing, changing and growing person? Because I don’t know the time at which someone can be defined- the ‘who’. That’s what I’m going to do here and every time I talk about someone close to my heart. With Holden, I’m going to write these entries as letters. One day I will give them all to him.

It has been somewhat difficult to begin these letters until now. Most of Holden’s first year contained a lot of suffering, both on his part and mine, as well as anyone involved.  Aside from the storm that hit my sails during my first year of this expedition I call marriage, being a new mom and feeling so utterly helpless that I had a new baby who I couldn’t make feel better was the ultimate depressor. His suffering mostly was a physical kind. He suffered from gastroesophageal reflux disease for most of his first year. How often I walked his nursery, the house, the backyard, while trying to walk and aggressively rock him tummy-down, a coping strategy taught to me by his pediatrician after many failed attempts at different therapies. The whole time bawling my eyes out because I couldn’t make him feel better. Even now, I still cry remembering that all too surreal feeling of absolute hopelessness. I cannot depict in words how hard it is to know you cannot take your child’s pain away.

A lot happened between then and now. Let’s be happy.

So here we are now, Holden is 18 months old and fearless. Resilient from the beginning.

18 months

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Dear Holden,

You didn’t sleep last well for me last night, but I’m not complaining. Normally you sleep 12-14 hours, now I’m bragging. I think God blessed me with a good sleeper in you after the first three months of not sleeping longer than an hour at a time because of your reflux. Last night you may have been too excited- did you know it was going to be your 18 month birthday in the morning somehow? Or were you just over-stimulated from the new lava lamp on your dresser you convinced me to get you at Target? All I know is that the minute you woke up ready to go for the day, approximately around 5:04 a.m., the first thing you wanted to do was turn on that lava lamp.

We made banana pancakes this morning together. You know I’m no cook compared to your Lula, but I promise I’ll get better by the time you’re actually old enough to remember my cooking. You love to cook with me in my kitchen, and you love to cook for me at your play kitchen. The mixer is your favorite. You like to turn the switch on and off. In fact, you like any switches, gadgets or buttons. If you want to go to school for engineering, that’s okay with me.

Anyway, you enjoyed your banana pancakes as I expected because you’re quite the eater. You love to eat, mostly anything, and lots of it. Some of your favorites right now are broccoli, watermelon, tri-colored rotinis, and peaches. But your preferences have changed over time. When you started eating solids months ago, if I didn’t give you a banana the minute you woke up, I knew I’d have a fussy boy on my hands.

I get such joy in watching you eat. Mostly because you love it so it makes my heart happy. But I like to watch how you eat and what you’re reactions will be like. Your mouth reminds me a lot of your late Aunt Becca. A lot of you reminds me of her but we’ll talk about that another day. When you concentrate on picking up a bite with your fork or fingers, your tongue sticks out between your lips. Something your Uncle Nick used to do when he was your age as pictures have confirmed. Once you stick that bite in your mouth, it’s not comin’ back out unless you don’t like the texture. One palm goes right up to those lips ready to catch anything that starts to seep out and ready to stuff right back in. Your eyes squint real tight when you have a big bite. If you like what you taste you bounce up and down in your seat with a smile on your face on top of full cheeks. Like hamsters do.

I went to the office this morning while Mallory babysat you during your nap. It’s been a lot harder on me to leave you than I let on. I miss you a lot when I’m working even though I know it’s going to be good for you in the long run. I know you’re attached to me even though you slap me in the face sometimes, prefer Lula or Papa when I’m in the picture, or try to embarrass me when you throw tantrums in the shopping cart.

As of recently you’ve really taken a liking to the dogs. I like to joke that you were raised by wolves since we go to the dog park every single morning. A few days ago I watched silently as you walked up to Maggie and put your hand on her belly like how I taught you to be ‘gentle’ and padded her. She loved it and licked you all over your face. You walked away smiling.

Speaking of licks, that is how you kiss. Remember how I said you were raised by wolves? You kiss like the dogs do. Go straight at someone’s face with that open mouth and tongue out. I don’t know if you know what you’re doing and won’t change it on purpose, but for the life of me I can’t get you to pucker your lips. Your favorite person to kiss is Papa. In fact, your favorite person to show affection to is Papa. Sometimes Papa complains that you aren’t affectionate enough to him, but I tell him over and over that he’s the one you’re the most affectionate with. He is just sensitive. I watched you play with Papa from the doorway to your playroom one morning when he stopped by on his way to work, as he stops by every morning, and you took his hat off and gave him a big kiss without him having to ask for one. So sweet. Mama needs more of those spontaneous kisses.

You also love your Lula so much, but you think she’s in your life for entertainment. Maybe it’s the way she marches towards you with a crazy face while singing every time she sees you. It makes me laugh too, don’t worry. No matter when or where you two are together there’s always a game to be played. She is always trying to make you smile and laugh your deep chuckle.

You have a deep voice. Sometimes I wonder how we’re related since mine is so high pitched. I also wonder where your size came from. You are huge. I finally used the spa gift card that Uncle Nick and Aunt Kate got mommy for Christmas a few days ago, and the masseuse could even tell which hip I carry you on since you’re so heavy. So solid and compact. So strong too. You’re almost able to overpower me. Please take it easy on me during your terrible twos. Although I feel like we’re beginning that time pretty early since you’ve been having tantrums as of recent. You exaggerate. If you don’t get your way, you pretend to fall down and face the floor kicking your legs. Your face turns bright red which makes your white hair look even whiter. But these tantrums don’t last long. You’re up and laughing one minute later when you’re easily distracted.

You are an ongoing, busy, strong, fearless boy. Although, and I know you’ll read this one day and possibly be so embarrassed, you get mistaken for a girl at least 5 times a week. That’s only because you’re so pretty (handsome). I promise I dress you in boy clothes. Mama just likes to put you in bright colors.

The thing I love about you most right now is your smile. You smile all the time. Such a happy boy. I can already tell that you’re lighthearted. After falling, you get up and try again with a smile on your face. It’s just what you do.

I’ll write again soon.

Love,

Mommy

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