Letter to Zoe, 20 Months

Dear Zoe,

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Today is one of those rare days when both you and your brother are taking a nap… at the same time to boot! I guess even this nasty cold making the rounds in our family has its perks because I’ve been wanting a chance to sit down and write a letter to you for quite a while.

You are loving the sesonal changes in our new home so far... so very different from California!

You are loving the seasonal changes in our new home so far… so very different from California!

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A lot has happened since I last wrote. Your father was offered a job in Virginia, and six weeks after we first heard of the possibility we were here. It’s almost been three months now and our heads are finally no longer spinning. I received a call from the Regional Center that you no longer qualified for services as you had caught up developmentally just before we left California! Now your days are spent at home with me and your brother who began homeschooling this year. We have so much fun together.

During a relatively warm rain you and Eli played outside having the time of your lives... I love that you have so much more opportunity to experience Nature in all of her forms here.

During a relatively warm rain you and Eli played outside having the time of your lives… I love that you have so much more opportunity to experience nature in all of her forms here.

You had NEVER before been so dirty!

You had NEVER before been so dirty!

It has been interesting to me that most everything I do with him you are able to jump right in on as well. In fact, on many days, you are more interested in any planned activities I have than your brother who loves free play with every fiber of his soul. You LOVE to paint, glue, write and draw (which of course look just the same though you are pretty specific as to which activity you are engaging in)… as long as it doesn’t get on your hands! We’ve also been shocked to find that you quite naturally already hold a pen or pencil with the correct three point grasp down toward the bottom, just like you’re supposed to.

You are definitely going through a "pointillism" stage... you love to paint dots, saying "dot, dot, dot" as you apply each one.

You are definitely going through a “pointillism” stage… you love to paint dots, saying “dot, dot, dot” as you apply each one.

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You saw this patch of dirt as we walked, shrieked “draw!” and threw yourself down to do just that.

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Language continues to grow exponentially each day it seems. Two word phrases are common and we hear three word sentences a few times each day. You are using the pronouns “I”,  “me” and “you” correctly and often. You are obsessed with pointing and telling me the names of things to the extent that it is really hard to get you to settle down to nap. For some reason sleep has a hard time competing with “door!”, “light!”, “window!”, “pillow!”, etc. You surprise me with the words you already know and I don’t know where you have picked them up… “Eagle!” while holding up a puppet in the store the other day, and “Hawk!” while pointing at the large bird soaring in a large circle above us.

You are now engaging in pretend play. Here you are having a tea party with your giant sock monkey.

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You are able to enter into Eli’s elaborate play scenarios to enough of an extent that he seeks you out to play with him constantly. He refers to you as “my partner, Zoe” and tells you that you are his best friend multiple times a day. He decided you would both be police officers for Halloween… you didn’t mind a bit.

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Saying “cheeeeese!”

You reciprocate his affection very well. You feel you have to do anything he is doing…

Doing everything just like Eli extends to wearing his underwear superhero-style.

Doing everything just like Eli extends to wearing his underwear superhero-style.

The best way to get you to eat is to just let you graze off of his plate… thankfully he isn’t territorial at all. You are still holding steady at a diminutive 20 lbs.

When we are out of the house you rarely will hold my hand but will insist on holding his, whether he want to or not. The view we get walking behind you is about the cutest thing ever! Well, that and turning around in the car to see the two of you quietly riding along holding hands in the backseat.

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You love anything and everything with fur (or feathers) and breath. You fully expect to have a little love-fest with each and every dog you pass on the street, but are beginning to learn to wait until given permission and assurance that the dog is child-friendly. And this mama is thankful that squirrels aren’t so very easy to catch.

Petting a 3 month old Great Pyrenees... You love it when dogs lick you and squeal "Kiss! Kiss!" every time.

Petting a 3 month old Great Pyrenees… You love it when dogs lick you and squeal “Kiss! Kiss!” every time.

Our new neighborhood is full of deer and you check out the window for them often saying “Deer? Deer?” followed occasionally by “DEER!”, or more often (deep sigh) “No deer….”. You enjoy watching birds at the bird feeders and take the job of refilling them quite seriously.

IMG_2918While we still have no pets (not sure we’re ready yet for a dog and I’ve developed a most unfortunate allergy to cats… I really hope that by the time you read these letters that our pet-less-ness will be a thing of the distant past), we plan to get chickens this coming Spring. I’ve long wanted to have them for the sake of the fresh eggs, and since moving to our new home in the forest their deer tick-eating habits make them even more desirable, but a recent visit to the home of one of Daddy’s co-workers who has a small flock sealed the deal.

IMG_2199IMG_2202IMG_2275You chased those poor chickens until one just gave up in exhaustion and let you sit next to her and pet and pet and pet her. Who knew chickens were such a rich source of toddler entertainment as well? It is becoming increasingly evident that you need some form of critter to love on and call your own.

The quest for independence is a hallmark of this stage of toddler-hood and you are not immune. You have to climb everything, blow your own bubbles and now prefer the “big kid’s swings” at the play ground.

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The last couple of weeks have been especially sweet for our family as we were visited by 2 grandparents and 3 aunts. You are completely smitten by your Grandpa Jim (and he with you, I might add).

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Enjoying the music of a street musician with Grandma Susan. Just after this photo was taken the two of you participated in an adorable session of toe tapping to the beat. You had it down!

It helped that on the day he and Grandma Susan had to leave Aunt Jacki arrived.

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Now the countdown is on to when we will see them all again over Christmas.

IMG_2530And so, dear sweet Zoe, you have little glimpse of yourself at a most adorable stage in your life. You are a constant source of joy and amusement. Your father and I feel so blessed that we get to share our lives with you.

Since moving I’ve managed to step up my game a little bit by posting what you and Eli are up to a few times a week on Facebook for our friends and relatives who are now so very far away. Even though you are not getting the monthly letters like your brother did, I hope you will have access to those archives when you are old enough to be interested in them, for there you are now well documented :-).

I love you so very, very much!

Mama

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Letter to Zoe, 3 1/2 Months

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Dear Zoe,

This is my first letter to you, I hope the first of many. I write them as a way to preserve memories of your early days which you won’t be able to remember for yourself. As such, they are as much for me as they are for you, as these are the things one can’t imagine ever forgetting but then later on can’t seem to quite remember. They are also for the benefit of loved ones who live far away, who haven’t met you yet, and who may only see you sporadically as you grow. But most of all they are so that you will know how very much you are loved and cherished…and have been since the very beginning.

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Developmentally your most recent accomplishments are grabbing onto small toys and holding onto them, bringing your two hands together to clasp, and laughing (your father nodding his head is particularly hysterical). You’ve been standing up on our laps supporting your own weight while we balance you for many weeks now – you have freakishly strong legs. Your track people walking from one side of the room to the other, especially if that person is your Daddy.

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At a three months of age your personality is becoming more and more apparent as the days progress. You really are a happy baby, ready to reward anyone who talks to you with smiles. You are beginning to laugh more now as well. It’s not the laugh I would have predicted you’d have. It sound a bit like a squawking crow with laryngitis. 🙂 And while there are plenty of fussy moments as you deal with both teething (already!) and reflux, you really seem to be pretty laid back for the most part. I take you to Bible study and you sit on my lap quietly the whole time. It amuses the other ladies there because you fold your hands at your chest and look intently at whoever is speaking nodding your head from time to time, seeming wise way beyond your years.

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We have the ability to capture you at this stage, both visually and audially, but I really wish we were able to somehow record what you feel like to hold. You are so soft, round, squishy and altogether cuddly. You have a way of melting into my arms and then looking at me and smiling, and its just about all I can do to keep from melting myself right then and there. You are growing so quickly that I know soon it will be a whole lot more work to hold you for so long. Already my arms are often quite sore by evening (and almost as often still are the next morning too, as you really like to be held a LOT.)  So I wish I could record this sensation now to enjoy over and over again as the years progress, but since I can’t, I remind myself often to enjoy it now while I can and to try not to worry so much about all that I am not getting done because my hands are full with a baby.

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Your brother is really crazy about you. To be honest, I was worried he’d be jealous and resentful of you after you were born. But although it has been a hard adjustment going from being an only child to having to wait his turn to have his needs met so often these days, he has only good things to say about you. He calls you his cutie baby or his sweetie baby. He says you are so pretty and that you are HIS baby. He takes care of you every way he knows how and is SO gentle.

You two already look like you're in cahoots.

You two already look like you’re in cahoots.

This past weekend when you were crying in the car your father and I heard him say to you there in the back seat, “Awww, bessie, bessie, it’s going to be okay. It’s gonna be okay, bessie, bessie.” He gets very concerned when you cry and informs me that you are crying right away (even when I’m already holding you and trying to comfort you.) Eli really looks forward to the time when you will be old enough to play with him, but please, don’t go start growing up all in a rush or anything. The rest of us need to enjoy your sweet baby-ness a while longer!

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With all the love you could ever possibly imagine and more,

Mama

Letter to Eli- 34 and 35 Months

Dear Eli,

Riding the carousel during an outing with Aunt Jacki.

Riding the carousel during an outing with Aunt Jacki.

I have not gotten your monthly letter done for a couple of months here. I am sorry. Things have been crazy and when there has been time and energy to write I felt so overwhelmed by all there is to say I’ve hardly known where to start. I guess I’m now just giving up on the idea of the full accounting of Christmas… it’s now past Valentine’s Day for goodness sake! And honestly, I need to rethink the timing and format of these letters to you. If I’m having trouble getting them done now, how will it be when there is a new baby in the house? And as you get older, speaking of your age in terms of months is beginning to seem a little silly. Yet I love taking the time to reflect on and record your growth and development. I like having a place to put the pictures that we take of you over the course of a month… and I also need this external reminder to take pictures each month as I’m not so good about that when just left to my own devices.

Uncle Kevin and Aunt Misa sent an otabe treat from Japan. "I had totabe (otabe)! Totabe be fun! Totabe be tummy fun!" You haven't stopped talking and dreaming about having more "totabe" since!

Uncle Kevin and Aunt Misa sent an otabe treat from Japan. “I had totabe (otabe)! Totabe be fun! Totabe be tummy fun!” You haven’t stopped talking and dreaming about having more “totabe” since!

Aside from the joy of seeing you really interact with the extended family in Tucson, the biggest Christmas development in your life was that you overcame your fear of dogs! I can’t even begin to tell you how huge this is. You now enjoy your time visiting relatives who own dogs. You are no longer constantly on high alert whenever we are outside, constantly scanning your surroundings and overcome by anxiety whenever a dog appeared on the horizon. When we returned from Tucson we wondered how much your new found enjoyment of our extended family’s pets would transfer to other canines we run across in daily life. When we took a New Year’s Day stroll around Laguna Beach and you actually felt slighted and disappointed each time we passed someone walking their dog who didn’t stop for you to pet the dog and have it sniff your hand we knew that indeed we had experienced a Christmas miracle! Your personal little mantra “I be okay” is a powerful thing. And while you are actually not saying it so often yourself anymore you should know that many in our clan are still quoting your phrase to themselves when feeling a need for the reminder.

Mia is your new best friend. You love to play fetch with her, although the poor dog is a bit confused when you run after the ball you've just thrown and try to fetch it before she can!

Mia is your new best friend. You love to play fetch with her, although the poor dog is a bit confused when you run after the ball you’ve just thrown and try to fetch it before she can!

I expect your little sister will be making her appearance any day soon… if these contractions get any more regular maybe even today! I’ve been so very aware of the fact that soon you will be sharing our attention with a newborn. While I am excited to welcome her into our family and begin the process of getting to know her I can’t help but wonder (and perhaps worry a bit) about how it will change our relationship. I’ve been soaking up extended cuddle times with you, and being on bed rest most of the past month has given me plenty of them, mindful that soon such uninterrupted time will be a thing of the past. And you, my boy, are a cuddle junkie! A year ago when you were constantly showing up the Energizer Rabbit I never would have guessed that I would be blessed with so much time to just hold you along side me. It’s truly the best thing ever! Except for the fact that a goodly part of the reason you are content to do so has been you’ve repeatedly experienced the joys of one strain of the flu after another this winter.

With Carly on your Christmas desert hike. You went off on the hike with relatives and without your parents and had the time of your life! You still talk daily about the "pokey" cactus, though I'm very glad they made such an impression on you without any painful encounters. You are a good listener and take adult warnings seriously... cautious like your father :-)

With Carly on your Christmas desert hike. You went off on the hike with relatives  (without your parents!) and had the time of your life! You still talk daily about the “pokey” cactus, though I’m very glad they made such an impression on you without any painful encounters. You are a good listener and take adult warnings seriously… cautious like your father 🙂

Although I know things will be changing in our family dynamic soon, and that the initially it may be a bit rough at times for you, you have shown me again and again how adaptable you can be when given time and space to work through a new adjustment. For your part, you are so excited to have your sister join us after waiting so, so very long! You often come to me to tell me you think it is time for us to go to the hospital to get the baby out! You’ve been know to try to stretch my belly button open to get a peak inside. A few days ago you took your foot to my belly button and told me you wanted to go into my belly. I wondered if you were feeling to need to be the baby again and asked “Why, Eli?” You gave me that look of long-suffering patience with my less than acute perception and answered, “to play with Zoe.”

Fishing for algae in the canal at the park.

Fishing for algae in the canal at the park.

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The catch of the day!

Your ability to answer “why” questions is a new development of the past couple of weeks, and you often begin your answer with the word “because”. It is wonderful to finally have you explain to us the reasoning behind some of the things you will say and do or about a reaction you are having. We are often astounded by the connections you will make between ideas! Your language development has become nothing short of amazing. During our cuddle times you love to just converse with me. In fact you like holding conversations so much that you get upset when other people talk to each other instead of with you. “No Mama, no talk to Daddy. Talk to Eli.” It’s a behavior and expectation we really need to work on, but honestly, it’s a great problem for us to have! Today at a donut shop the girl behind the counter remarked at how much you were speaking. Of course, she had no idea that this little boy who now can sit and narrate the minutest detail of his experience had less than 20 words to his vocabulary just a year ago. It was about the nicest off-hand comment a stranger has ever made to us about you… even better than the times people go on and on about how adorable you are!

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Lately you ask me, without exaggeration, at least 20 times a day if I am your Mommy. You do so with the sweetest tone of voice, and I don’t think the question comes from any real doubt on your part as to whether I am you mother or not. You often tend to phrase statements in the form of questions and this is your way of marking our relationship. It is often quickly followed by you making the universal sound of melting over cuteness (“Aaawwww!”) and hugging whichever part of me is closest to you. Eli, I am incredibly blessed to be your Mommy. There are few things in this life that make me feel as happy as being your mother does. I will always be your Mommy even when you have long outgrown the use of the word. (Which, I have to say, is not yet. Please stop calling me Mom… you’re not even three yet! Mommy or Mama will do just fine for at least a couple more years. Please?!??)

I love you so very, very much!

Mama

Letter to Eli, 28 Months

Dear Eli,

This month your world here at home expanded as we opened up the kitchen. You were such an energetic baby and young toddler, full of frenetic activity and not seeming to understand much of any rules we tried to make (nor the word “no”, EVER)  that we had the baby gate keeping you out of the kitchen since you could crawl.

Your Mama has been doing a lot of reading and learning lately though.  It has encouraged me to involve you more in household activities and help you toward independence by allowing you to learn new skills by actually doing what may seem a bit dangerous, such as unloading glass dishes or peeling carrots. I also realized you are not the Godzilla baby you once were any longer. You listen, usually understand, try to follow direction, and are much calmer than you were just a few months ago. So, with a lot of guidance and supervision, you have been learning the ways of the kitchen.

Helping to wipe down the refrigerator.

You have been in seventh heaven with the new arrangement. We’ve been seeing a lot of pots, pans and random kitchen items pulled out of cupboards and onto the floor, as you never had the opportunity for such exploration when you were younger. You are good about putting things away when asked though and now we are seeing a lot less of kitchen-floor-as-counter-top than we were at the beginning of the month. The exploration and joy for you has well been worth the inconvenience and added dishwashing for us. In fact you now know how to load and unload a dishwasher! I was amazed to see you already know where everything goes. An added benefit is that meal preparation is no longer a stressful time of you fussing and complaining on the other side of the fence. Instead I try to find jobs you can do to have a part in making the meal. Hopefully this will carry over into a willingness to try more foods.

You love to help with baking projects… especially banana bread. You are a master at banana mashing and at turning on the mixer.

And when there are no “real” cooking experiences to be had you are quite adept at creating your own.

Similarly you have been stepping up your participation in other household chores mind-blowingly exciting household duties. As you are no longer terrified of the monster residing in the vacuum you delight in harnessing his power to your whim. This particular day you cleaned up all of the rice that overflowed while you played in your rice bin, then you went on to chase down every dust bunny daring to set up residence around the washer and dryer. I am now seeing how beneficial your obsession with the vacuum can be. 🙂

A restful moment with Cori.

This past month you have enjoyed spending time with your cousins. Cori watched you for a few hours one evening while your Daddy and I had a date night for our anniversary. You did so well (as did she)! It is fun seeing you grow ever more independent. I expect you will be having many more Cori-Eli Fun Time opportunities from here on out.

We spent the weekend before July 4th with family as Aunt Jenni and Ali came to visit. Cori and Ali watched you a lot while we were all together, giving your Daddy and I time to visit with the adults. I think you had them both fairly well worn out by the time Sunday night rolled around.

Hanging poolside with Daddy, Ben, Cori and Ali.

Cori and Ali, and lots of water… it just doesn’t get much better than that!

In one single day during that weekend you managed to accidentally fall into the deep end of the pool, fall down a flight of stairs, and jump up on a patio chair causing it to fall over backwards sending you hurdling into a plant stand. Amazingly, you emerged from each disaster unscathed though a bit shaken up. I think I sprouted a few white hairs that day. The next morning I was so thankful to wake up with you snuggled up next to me all in one piece.

You still enjoy a good spin!

The ever popular words “Ewww! ‘Ucky!” are now used for anything that could even remotely be considered gross. You seem to relish the particularly messy diaper changes as there is all the more reason to declare the situation “Ewww! ‘Ucky!” over and over again. It’s enough to make me wonder if this factor alone will push off any desire to learn to use the potty even farther into the future. (Just so you know, the yuckiness could still be loudly proclaimed up until that golden moment of the flush.)

Play dough birthday party… Great for blowing practice! Soon you’ll be blowing your own bubbles. 🙂

The “Happy Birthday to You” song is getting heavy rotation at our house. I’m not sure why you are so fascinated right now as your birthday is neither very recent nor soon to come. You’ve managed to fish a pack of candles out of the baking cupboard to play with. (Sorry, but the matches will remain locked away!) When you aren’t playing with actual birthday candles, toothbrushes, sticks, or wooden peg people will do. You sing (again and again) “‘Appy ew you! ‘Appy ew you!” It’s the first recognizable song you’ve ever sung independently, although before this there have been a few songs of your own creation.

Happy Birthday, Thomas!

Little Eli,  you continue to delight us. Thank you for adding such an incredible layer of joy to our lives.

I love you so very, very, very much!

Mama

Letter to Eli, 27 Months

Dear Eli,

I can’t believe another month has flown by. As always you continue to blossom and grow, thrill and amaze. About the growing part, you know, you could slow it down a little. We recently had to retire about 2/3 of your wardrobe seemingly overnight. That and your Mama is now having to put limits on your Ergo time…

On Mother’s Day

You continue to love music and now demand to sing songs you have learned at school at random moments throughout the day. The photographs below were taken on a day, which was part of a string of days , when you demanded to sing about “Matilda the Gorilla” at least 67 times. You now will sing out yourself on various words of a song and participate in the hand motions, but mostly it’s Mama serenading you about that singing gorilla. We need to learn some new songs. Fast.

You are speaking so much more now. Spontaneous two word phrases abound! Some times you say so much more than that, but I’m beginning to struggle to understand you when you get especially verbose. All of the people who work with you in speech therapy have expressed how thrilled they are with your progress. Of course, your daddy and I are the most thrilled of all. One of the cutest things we hear often around here is “No, no, no, no, no!” said rapid fire and with a tone of great dismay, usually due to a toy falling off the table or another equally great calamity.

This month you had your first carousel ride. You are a fan on the music, movement and the animals, but not so much of having to pick just one animal and sticking with it the entire ride!

At the park you initially demanded that I “drive” you to visit all of the well-loved people and places in your life. I kept encouraging you to be the one to do the driving.

Of course, now you think that we should make the same transition with the family car. The time between now and your learner’s permit is going to go by way too slowly for you, and way too quickly for me.


I love these two photos of you playing in the strange light of the recent partial solar eclipse.https://folkhaven.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/shamelessly-lazy-toddler-jeans/

You have become quite bashful when we are out in public. This is your most common reaction to a stranger paying you any attention. I guess for you being cute has its drawbacks, because it seems there are a lot of people out there that would love to chat with you.

This past month you developed an obsession with vacuum cleaning. Not only will you be entertained for long stretches of time by the mere presence of the upright vacuum in the living room, but when it is squirreled away in the closet any and all toys have the ability to morph into vacuums. You often will be heard humming around the house waving a vacuum in the form of a guitar, flute or shovel in each hand. For a couple of weeks you spent great deal of energy demanding that your father or I vacuum this way with the toys of your choosing, while you sat back and supervised, pointing out all the spots that we “missed”. Then I found a forgotten Dust Buster in the closet that still works. Now you are happy to do most of your vacuuming yourself, and we actually are seeing cleaner floors because of it! You continue to love to sweep as well, which is good, because playing in your rice bin is another recent obsession.

Doing our best to raise a tree hugger…

…the kiss was all your idea.

We went on a field trip to a small zoo with your the group from ICEC. There I learned that you do not share your mother’s fascination and enjoyment of goats. When you saw those crazed and hairy beasts craning their necks over and under the fence you decided we should leave the zoo RIGHT AWAY. And had it not been for the Ergo I’m sure you would have, with or without me. Unfortunately, the goats were pretty much at the entrance to the zoo. You eventually calmed down and enjoyed parts of the experience, but for the most part you were not enamored with the animals as I had hoped you would be. But there is hope for you yet. In an old letter written by your Grandma Beverly when your father was about four she wrote that he “prefers his animals behind bars”. As you know, your daddy is quite the fan of the four-legged, so between your genetic heritage and our relentless influence we will make an animal lover out of you yet. And hopefully you will enjoy them more in nature than behind bars.

You have developed a new strange little habit of “going to sleep” at random moments in public areas, as demonstrated on this staircase. Maybe you want to get in on the planking craze?

Anyway, toward the end of our time at the zoo you decided to make yourself comfortable on the sidewalk, right in front of the mountain lion enclosure. One of the lions immediately went into predator mode and rushed over to you, thankfully stopped about two feet short by the chain link fence. There it crouched at attention, completely focused on you, all the while licking its chops. I sat you up to show you what had happened, but you remained much less impressed by the mountain lion than it was by you. So I guess it’s up to me to make sure you grow up understanding that if you ever encounter a mountain lion in a less controlled setting, playing dead is probably not your best option.

At the end of the day at the zoo we took a ride in this little train. You were very tired and subdued and I wasn’t sure how much of an impression it made, but ever since you have been so excited when you see a train in any form. Your wooden train has been getting quite the work out daily as you load it up with all of the little people and animals you can cram on it.

Few things warm my heart as much as seeing you play in a natural setting. One of the best parts of my childhood was growing up in the country, playing long hours in the fields, woods and stream. I hope as you grow I can find many opportunities for such play for you. This local park and a few downed branches is as good a place as any to start.

I love you so very, very, very much!

Mama

Letter to Eli, 26 Months

Dear Eli, This past month has been a tough one for us, although I am not sure how aware of that you have been. Your grandmother has begun slipping beneath the final waves of dementia and has gone into hospice care. As she becomes more and more unresponsive she still takes enjoyment from you. Even when nothing else seems to get through to her, a hug and a kiss from you, or even seeing your picture will bring out a smile.

Grandma and Uncle Kevin watching you play.

While this has of course been quite difficult for me, for you it has meant that Uncle Kevin and Aunt Misa have come from Japan to visit.

“More dizzy!” you said. Again, and again, and again. Poor Uncle Kevin ended up quite motion sick!

We have all been enjoying their presence here with us, and you have taken to your Aunt Misa like a little bear cub to honey. You can’t seem to get enough of her. When they are here you are constantly playing with her, hugging her, climbing on her, demanding one game and then another.

Enjoying the Elmo sushi Aunt Misa made you.

She likewise has taken to you as well. She and Uncle Kevin have watched you on a number of occasions this past month, allowing your father and I more “date night” opportunities than we’ve had since you were born.

I think this practice with being able to separate from us a bit more frequently has been helpful in getting you ready to re-enter the Thursday group therapy program. When we had tried having you participate there a couple of months age, while I went into the parent education meeting it was a disaster. You were beside yourself during the hour we were apart and for days afterwards were extra clingy. You even had night terrors that night. Last Thursday though we gave it a try again for the last half hour of the program. You did fantastic! No tears, and you enjoyed and participated in the activities. You were very excited to tell me all about getting to use the alligator puppet during circle time when I came back for you. I was so proud of you!

Wearing a helmet as you try out your 2 wheeled “Footcycle”.

You have also been doing a lot of things you were previously afraid of or adverse to up until now. You are now enjoying a variety of swings. You are eating almost normally. You are even willing to wear a bicycle helmet now! It seems like almost everyday you surprise me by doing something I wouldn’t have imagined you doing just a month ago.

Your obsessions with guitars and working like Daddy are neither new, nor are they showing any sign of diminishing.

What is new this month is your attachment to playing with your wooden slice and bake cookie set. You never tire of the humor of pretending the cookie just off of the cookie sheet is hot and about to burn you!

Also new is your attachment to your stuffed giraffe. You have periods when ‘Raff has to do everything with you. Books must be held so he gets the best view and you bob his head along to the words of the story. His hoof must be used to push buttons on remote controls or to hold any pencil or crayon. It is most distressing to you if anything happens without ‘Raff’s participation when you are in this mode.

Technology AND live music… it just doesn’t get any better than that!

Your father and I spent a delightful Saturday at the beach with you earlier this past month. I hope we can do a lot more of that throughout the summer months. You serenaded us in the car for 20 minutes on the way home singing an Eli original goodbye song to the beach.

Even in the midst of many stresses our family is experiencing right now you manage to bring so much joy to us everyday. Thank you for delighting, inspiring and loving on us in this way that is so uniquely yours.

I love you so very, very, very much!

Mama