Dear Baxter: Happy Fourth!

Dear Baxter,

There never was a little boy so sweet as you. I’ve heard this won’t last forever. I’m told that teenage boys and their moms are oil and water, nails on a chalkboard, fork tines scratching an empty porcelain plate.

I want to freeze you in this way, in these moments, for all my life; it seems a cruel joke that something I love so deeply cannot stay curled in a warm ball by my side forever.

So, I write.  I’ll capture this sweetness here, on your fourth birthday, and hope that it only grows as you grow.  I know that you may stuff it down deep and only let it show when it really, truly matters.  And I will forever tell you: it always really, truly, matters. No moment is too small, and no person is undeserving. 

These precious moments are the ones I will carry with me always, and dig down deep for them when those days, months come that you are far away (in mind or in presence):

  • Like the time I was home recovering from surgery, and you needed to stay home sick. I was desperate, aching and wanting nothing but time to pass so I could fall into an exhausted heap once dad got home. At about lunch time, you stood up from your parking lot of trucks (on which you’d been pressing every noise-making button and making me join you in delighting over their mashed up sounds). “Hey. I’m just having my best day ever here with you, mom. We should make more days like this.”

 

  • Or the time I saw the first real recognizable drawing that you’d done: a self portrait at school, complete with ears! “Well, if you like that so much, I will go right home and make many of pictures for you, Mom!” And, you did.  You haven’t stopped for about two weeks.

 

  • Or the time Nanny and Grampy dropped by between school and dinner just to say hi.  You were devouring your snack (graham crackers and apple slices) when Nanny said they had to get home and make dinner.  Sensing your chance to extend their visit, you hauled out the graham crackers and more bowls. “You can share my snack if you’re hungry! Here is one for you….and one for you!”

 

  • Or the time dad and I were busy cooking dinner, rehashing the day.  Tripping over lunch bags and flustered over whines of hunger.  You kept interjecting:

“Mom, what does H look like?”

“Which are the spells for Dad’s name?”

“How do I write your word, you know…the one for your name?”

Ten minutes later, as we sat down to dinner, you made everyone wait.  “You can’t eat yet!  Not until you get these!” And you proceeded to deliver all four of us a painstaking, hand-drawn picture, complete with one single letter from our names:

  • Charlotte got an H with swirls because she loves dancing.
  • Dad got a D with a volcano because “he loves loud things”.
  • You gave yourself a B with beautiful trails of red criss-crossing the page “because red is the best”.
  • And I got an O with marker swoops that filled the entire page “because you’re my best mommy”.

So simple. You carried on with dinner and promptly forgot about your twenty minutes of hard work. But you made me cry, little man. Your thoughtful consideration of other people, often at our busiest or most tired moments, will stick with me for months to come.

The year between age 3 and age 4 was a big turning point for both you and your sister: you started to recognize the world beyond yourself.  You started to understand that your actions have impact.  You started to believe that other things matter, and you started asking questions and caring in a way you haven’t before.

I often find myself staring. Watching your every move, as if I could record it in my memory and later replay every sensory detail of Baxter, age 4.  I know there are more, and better things to come.  But I love you so much….

just

the way

you are.

Happy birthday, bud. xo,

Mom

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Baxter is nine months old!

My little man is now closer to one year than he is to the newborn phase.  I just remarked to Fred the other day that Baxter’s first year is seeming to go by so much faster than Charlotte’s first year did!  We are busier than ever, and the minutes literally slip away when you are ‘on’ 12hours a day.  There is no time to check email, sit down for a quiet moment, eat something in peace, or even go to the bathroom alone.  Every minute revolves around some little person and their intense needs.  Come 8pm, Fred and I barely have enough energy to talk to each other, and sometimes just relish the quiet.  But it’s all worth it when you have a little man that laughs a giant hiccuping belly laugh when all you do is look at him.

And yes, Baxter is a little man: “Baximus Maximus”, “Baxter Boy” or “Honey boy” as he’s known around here.  The sweetest moment I have seen in their relationship was just this morning: Charlotte was trying to watch The Jungle Book movie, and Baxter was sitting 6 inches from her screaming and whining for a solid 6-7 minutes.  She finally just reached over to him, rubbed his head, and said “ohhh Baxter Boy, are you sad?”  He calmed at her touch, and they both went on watching the movie.  What tenderness and care–and endless patience–she has for her brother!

The big changes between 8 months and 9 months:

  • crawling!  well, more like army-crawling-inching across the floor.  the boy has some strong arms, and the front of his clothes are getting all frayed from being dragged across every rug, hardwood floor, grass, and driveway on our property!
  • can pack away a LOT of food!  tonight he ate fistfulls of salmon, a whole bowl of applesauce, some mashed cauliflower + potato, and finished it all off with 1/3 of a banana.  and THEN went directly upstairs to nurse!
  • is starting to pull himself up on anything he can find
  • loves Pippa the cat–whenever he hears her in the room, he must find her and inch on over!
  • he babbles a lot, and says “mama” quite often…but I’m still not sure if it’s intentional or not?
  • By the way, now that he’s mobile?  There is NO HOPE for cute, stationary monthly photos anymore.  The shots below are the best we could do!

Mama ‘Bee found her flock

I wrote several months ago about my “Boobie Group” mothers group that has absolutely saved my sanity, affirmed my identity as a mother, provided laughs, commiseration, and all-around solidarity.  I would be so lost without this support system.  It has helped me grow the confidence I need to ask questions, search for new strategies when I need them, vent, admit when things are not going well, and celebrate when they are.  Working moms, stay at home moms, single moms, two moms–I’ve never met a more down to earth group of ladies.

On Friday, a (small) fraction of us met up for the annual “Mom in the picture” event at our beloved Birth Roots.  These mamas keep me going!  And just look at all those beautiful kiddos!  xoxo.

boobie group 2015Boobie Group 2015 with toddlers, babies, and other-halfs!  We all met back in the winter of 2013 through a breastfeeding support group and/or our community based parenting support Birth Roots.  Two years later, still growing strong!

Photo credit:  Emilie of Emilie Inc

DIY

It’s been a busy summer here at the Follansbee house, trying to get our new pad up and running the way we want it.  It’s a lot of work to buy the house, and then even more work to make it your own!

We’ve had a number of DIY projects going on simultaneously…which is always an adventure when you have a pregnant Mama ‘Bee, and a toddler ‘Bee that is not in day care all summer!  Fred takes care of the outside and heavy lifting projects, while I’ve been free to focus my energy on more creative and decorative tasks.  Here’s a peek at what we’ve been up to…

We’ve been converting an old dining room into a playroom for the kids, since we are having a nanny and the kids will be home all school year.  They need space to play, and room to hold their growing collection of toys!  I made these picture labels so that we can start to teach Charlotte how to put her toys away in the correct places (click on the pictures to enlarge):

As mentioned above, our nanny comes to join the family one week from now!  She is actually an international au pair, traveling from Italy this year to live with us.  Her name is Ilaria, and she is currently a hair stylist by trade and has been an au pair in Belgium before.  Needless to say, we needed to turn our spare bedroom/junk collection area into a proper home for her!  Here are the before and after shots:

With cabinet space being almost non-existent, we’ve had to come up with some creative storage.  Here is our magnetic spice rack, affixed to the refrigerator door: IMG_0885

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fred is building a sandbox for the backyard!  Charlotte is really into textures and scooping/pouring lately, so hopefully it will get a lot of use this fall (and not just by the cats).

 

Fred also built us a compost bin this spring:

Of course, with all the DIY-ing going on, Charlotte couldn’t be left out of the fun.  Here she is finger painting a masterpiece in the backyard.

Cooking up a [snow]storm!

With 12″ of snow, 2 snow days, and temperatures hovering at 0 degrees, we’ve barely left the house this week.  This has given us lots of time for playing with Charlotte’s new Christmas toys and videos, and has also meant that she’s taking some extra long naps!  (What a blessing for a shoveling-daddy and a house cleaning-mommy!)

I’ve been baking up a storm here while Charlotte naps, and wanted to try some new recipes for her that would go beyond fresh fruits and roasted veggies.  She eats a ton of whole foods and especially produce, but I can see that she’s getting kind of bored when her dinner consistently is made up of one green veg, one whole grain, and maybe some yogurt or applesauce.  She also seems less interested in nursing, which  means that she may be starting to drop some of her feedings.  It’s been a long and sometimes-bumpy road with nursing for us, and it will be a little bittersweet when it’s all done (more on that in the next post).

In the meantime, it’s increasingly more important that Charlotte gets quality nutrients from the solid food she’s eating.  We’re nearing the end of our “food is fun until age one!” theory.  Just one month until her first birthday!  We got a juicer and a new dutch oven for Christmas, so Fred and I have been playing with our new toys too!  Here’s what we’ve been up to, in the kitchen and at the dinner table….

The Mayor of Portland

The Mayor of Portland

Everywhere we go, Charlotte waves to everyone and everything she sees: at the grocery store, Starbucks, day care, driving in traffic…waving at kids, adults, dogs, trees, and pumpkins. It garners a lot of smiles and even more return waves. Who doesn’t love to be the object of a baby’s attention? She’s my little Mayor of the City of Portland, glad-handing everyone everywhere we go!