Saturday, September 8, 2018

Forrest is 6 Years Old

Dear Forrest, 

You are SIX year old. Holy batman. It is getting to the point where Mama is telling people that it no longer feels like as if it is yesterday when she and Daddy brought you home from the hospital, because so much time has passed. This brings up a weird juxtaposition of having emotions of both sadness, and happiness. There is sadness because time waits for no one, and you're growing up too quickly for Mama's liking, yet there is a lot of happiness, because it has been so fascinating to watch you grow into an awesome person, and to develop a more meaningful relationship with you.  The relationship with you is no longer 'one way street' of Mama and Daddy pouring love onto you, and taking care of you. Mama and Daddy encased their ideas, hopes, and dreams onto you. Now it's becoming two way street. You're shedding that encasement of what Mama and Daddy put on you. You're able to interact more, show different interests, a plethora of lessons to be discussed about and learned from, and to really get to know you.

The best news came from your former speech teacher, Colleen, was you being officially released from IEP. It was hard to believe that you came to her, barely speaking and communicating to being a very talkative little boy! The hard work you put in with Colleen paid off! She informed us that she had released only a handful students during her career, and she was proud to include you to be among of the few. It was an emotional moment to have her retire, because she had put in so much in teaching you and Franklin to communicate, and to also have you to improve so much under her care. It didn't surprise us though that you were able to blaze through the last two years in term of your speech development.

Your second year of 4K was a wonderful one. It confirmed our decision to hold you back for another year, because you had grown so tremendously in Michelle's LEADS class. It also helped to learn that the majority of your classmates were held back due to their late birthdays. You were placed at the first grade reading level, and you joined the first graders for reading time. It blew our minds how well you were able to read. You showed a preference for a silent reading. Mama and Daddy encouraged your love of reading by picking books in your favorite topics, which usually meant nature, cooking, dinosaurs, Big Foot, myths, and Star Wars! More often than not, people told us they were also mind blown by how well you read. Your mathematics with counting was marked to be at end of kindergarten level. Your writing had improved from being barely readable to Mama and Daddy being able to understand what you were writing. Your coloring, and cutting skills were difficult for you last year, and this year, you had no trouble doing them! My, what accomplishments you had achieved, and on top of this, to have your skills to be fine tuned by attending this wonderful program led by a great teacher.

You remained to be a social butterfly! You loved to talk loudly among your friends during the class, and often needed to be reminded by your teacher to settle down some. It was wonderful to hear that you were the life of the classroom. At the same time, we wanted to make sure that you learned proper social norms, and to be a polite boy. Your emotional maturity level had also grown. There were a lot of lessons for you to learn how to socialize with your friends, how to resolve conflicts and arguments, to apologize, and to accept apologies from others. Your friendships brought a lot of teachable moments involving discussions about your feelings, and thoughts. It prompted your teacher to encourage us to give you a journal. Boy, you sure loved writing in your journal! It helped you to identify, and label your feelings to reduce some of the outbursts you had. By the end of the year, you gained confidence, and Mama and Daddy could not be any happier than they already were for you. You were more than ready for kindergarten this fall.

Your signing has also exploded. It is wonderful to see you developing fluency for a second language. Your signing has gotten to the point where you are able to carry on a conversation with Mama. You have been complimented by some folks in the public on how well you sign for your age. When you try to ask Daddy to interpret for you on the days when you feel discouraged, he tells you no, and to keep trying. This fuels your drive to overcome obstacles in not knowing certain sign words. You love reading with Mama, and having her sign along with you reading so you can learn signs. It is amazing to see how children's minds function in term of developing language, communication, and blending two cultures into one. By your persistence in learning signing, Franklin is also encouraged to pick up on his language development, and he has been improving greatly as well! You're a wonderful mentor for your younger brothers, and becoming into a fascinating CODA (child of a Deaf adult).

You went to your 6 year old wellness check. Everything checked out to be great with you! You were a bit worried about getting immunization shots, and fortunately, you did not need them until you turn eleven year old! You clocked at 3 feet 8 inches tall, and weighed 42 pounds. Dr. Karbon said you looked great. 

It has been amazing to see you growing into a little boy, and how much you resemble Daddy! When people share with you that you look like Daddy, you smile and nod your head, then say, yes I know rather shyly. You are no longer a small child, but a young boy with so much yearning to explore, and learn about the world around you.

While you look so much like Daddy, some of your personality traits reminds Mama so much of...her! Mind you, while you share some similar personality traits with Mama, you still are uniquely YOU. There are a lot of things about you that are just YOURS. 

You love books, especially Goosebumps, anything about Big Foot, mythology, dinosaurs, and adventures. You often hoard books on your bed, and Mama have to clean off your bed at least once a week so you have some space to sleep in your bed! You get quite upset when one of your books falls apart from being handled so much, and ask Mama to fix them for you. Sometimes, she has to replace your favorite books by ordering new copies! It warms Mama's heart so much that you love to read, because Mama was (and still is) still the same way. You love scary movies! Mama looks forward to the day when she can introduce you to to the world of zombies, monsters, aliens, and outlandish creature movies...but that will be some time off yet, and you will need to be a bit older before that happens. Right now, you enjoy Goosebumps, and kid friendly scary movies, books, and all that. 

You love pizza, home made garlic bread, and hot dogs. You're starting to accept the idea of eating broccoli, and certain vegetables. It's a work in the progress, but you will come to like to eat them. You have found that you love eating yogurt, and cheese sticks. Mama has to watch over how much you eat dairy, because it can cause your eczema to flare up. Finding a right type of milk that you will drink is a bit tricky still in term of not causing your skin to flare up, or finding something you will drink. You're such a picky eater! Mama and Daddy are still constantly encouraging you to widen your palate with food, and you usually end up liking them! 

You dislike being discouraged from doing certain things by yourself. Sometimes you think you are able to make your own rules, because you are the oldest child in the house. Mama and Daddy often have to remind you that while you are the oldest, your parents still determine, enforce, and establish rules for everybody to follow. You struggle with Franklin copying you in everything you do. You often need to be reminded that Franklin looks up to you so much, and loves you so. He thinks you are the most awesome person on the planet, and craves your approval. Franklin gets quite heartbroken when you try to do your own thing without him. Because of this, Mama and Daddy have to find a happy ground of allowing you to do your own thing and him with his own, and making sure you both have time to play together. Sometimes it can be such a challenge for you, because Franklin struggles with his speech development and doesn't always express himself appropriately, which annoys you, and you want him to stop. It is a constant balance of making sure all cogs in the wheel continues to function properly. This brings a lot of lessons in appropriate social interaction, how to express ourselves appropriately, when to apologize and forgive, to give and take, and apply those to life outside home.

You're so full of personality! You love to show off, and make everybody around you chuckle. You have a sharp sense of humor. For instance, the other day you asked a nurse why your doctor was mean after she told you the doctor's name, Dr. McMeen. The nurse assured you that Dr. McMeen was anything, but mean, and that it was just her surname. You said without a beat, "Oh, she must be mean to the adults then." You started cracking up shortly after.

You're also filled with surprises. In the same conversation, You asked your doctor if she was from France, or Europe, because of how her last name was spelled. The doctor smiled, and later Mama learned that your doctor, in fact, was from Kiev, Urkaine! How did you know that? Or you will randomly tell Mama or Daddy (or anybody who is listening) facts about nature, and it blew their minds. It was like how do you know this stuff at age of 6?! Mama tries to remind people (and herself at times) not to make intelligence a sole bragging point for you, because there ARE MANY wonderful things about you that are always praised, and reinforced.

While we miss Dr. Warpinski, our previous allergist who had retired last year, we have come to really appreciate our new allergist, Dr. McMeen. 

She was full of wealth information with helpful tips, and suggestions. Some of tips were new to Mama, and she appreciated all the help she got from Dr. McMeen regarding your eczema. Your eczema had been a huge struggle this summer with you swimming all summer long, and being exposed to pollen in the environment. She explained that your previous blood test had cleared you of all tree nuts allergy, including the cashews to which you were allergic to as a baby, however, she still erred on the cautious side. She wanted you to wait a year before retesting to make sure that it was completely safe for you to attempt tree nuts trial. A challenge remained with tree nuts, and that was the case of cross-contamination of them being mixed with peanuts. It was a bit mind boggling to see how EXPENSIVE tree nuts were when they were labeled to be processed in a separate facility from the peanuts. It was Mama's hope to find tree nuts that were affordable, and ALSO safe for you to eat, so she can go ahead and make homemade granola bars for you to snack on someday. 

Your score was higher than the last time you had your blood test from a few years prior, which pinpointed to a severe peanut allergy, and it was a bit sad to hear that. Mama wished she was able to find a cure for your peanut allergy, so you can always remain safe, never having to worry about rejected by insurance someday for having a pre-existing condition, stressing about having epi pens with you at all of the time, dealing with general ignorance surrounding food allergies, and enjoy food carefree, yet at the same time, you were given this for a reason. Mama felt that by growing up as a Deaf person, she was able to prepare you for life challenges, and the struggles that may come with you having a peanut allergy. At the same time, remember that this also shared a lot of benefits, such as making you more empathetic person, shaping your assertiveness, and standing up for those with conditions that may invite others not to be as understanding toward them. 

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You have grown into the role of an oldest brother rather wonderfully. You're extremely protective of Fox, and always want to make sure he remains safe under your watch. You love picking him up in your arms, and carry him to whatever you think he should go. You let Mama know when Fox needs her, tells Franklin to be "soft" with Fox, and helps Mama out by throwing away soiled diapers. You proudly tell people that you have two brothers, and that you love them so (despite your sibling rivalry with Franklin from time to time).

We look toward year 6 with you!

We love you so, our dear bookworm.


Mama, Daddy, Franklin, and Fox

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fox is ONE Year Old

Dear Fox,

The tradition continues with you as it has with the other two, and your first letter is in the making for you to cherish someday. Daddy and Mama have always known that we wanted a big family. What they did not know is that they will end up with three very rambunctious, loving, sweet, and beautiful boys. We are blessed to have you three in our lives. You each brings an unique factor to our family, and to not have one of you with us most certainly will cause a void. Mama hope you each will come to understand that you are valued, wanted, loved, and cherished. 

Daddy and Mama does not make it a secret that you came after a loss of their third baby. It is their hope that you understand that you are not going to be associated, or shadowed by that experience, and that you are uniquely you. You are not a replacement, or a filler for what is lost. You, and your brothers are gifts. With having said this, you are also shaped by what had happened, and you are our rainbow baby. It goes to show that love, and hope are always going to prevail. After all, you are the living proof of this. You come bearing with a valuable lesson that it is possible to survive a storm, and to be still blessed. 

You are our third living child. You have two older brothers to look up to, and it is in my hope that you three will form an unbreakable bond that will continue long after when Daddy and Mama are gone. Your relationship with them will not going to be perfect, easy, or neat. There will be moments when you may not like them very much, or them you. There will be moments when you may feel that they outshine you. You may feel left behind as they get older, and lose interest in things that you still enjoy. Do know this though, you will always be cheered on, exalted, loved, and supported by all of us. The sibling rivalries will fade away. You are never left behind. You are always kept in front of us with your brothers. You three may end up on different trajectories in your lives, the love and brotherhood you have with each other will be what holds you together.

Forrest made Mama a mother for the first time. They navigated through the murky waters of parenthood together, experienced a lot of firsts, dealt with a lot of tears, trying to adjust to the life of a baby which was hard for someone who was fiercely independent, and to be honest, Mama did not know what she was doing most of the time. Everything was so new, overwhelming, amazing, and beautiful with him.

When Mama went into labor with Franklin, oh, she cried, and cried as she held Forrest against her chest, because she was so worried about losing that unique bond she had with Forrest, and whether she was going to love this baby as much as she loved Forrest. Then Franklin came into the world, and floored her completely, because her heart grew so large with love, and she realized there was no limited capacity of how much you could love someone. Franklin was such a happy, happy baby despite his medical problem, and she gained confidence. She had some idea of what she was doing the second time around with a newborn. Franklin taught her that love had no bounds, and that it just kept growing.

Then, you came along. Mama was not worried about not loving you as much as Mama loved Forrest, and Franklin, because Franklin showed her otherwise. You healed what was missing in our hearts. You anchored us in a midst of a tumultuous storm, and brought a rainbow into our lives. When Mama's heart felt sad, all she had to do was hold you, and all was right once again in my world. Because of this, you three are so special to us.

You're such a cunning, funny, sweet, wild, and loving boy. Mama can see you becoming an imaginative, adventurous, and have a wicked sense of humor. You're going to be an unpredictable one. You are quick witted, and expressive yet you can be broody and serious. You love to scrunch your face, and it is one of the most awesome facial expressions you have. We never know which side we will end up with!

You're never without kisses, and hugs. You're always being picked up, and talked to. Your brothers are beginning to discover how much fun you can be now you're more mobile! I imagine watching you growing up with them, and developing that close bond with them. It is my hope that you continue to foster that relationship with them, and keep your brothers connected with you.

Dr. Karbon gave you a clean bill of health. You measured to be 31 inches tall, and weighed at 18 pounds! Mama called you her Bean pole! She was not used to having such a thin baby, but Dr. Karbon assured her that all was well with you! You hadn't begun to walk on your own, and showed no interest in doing so. She diagnosed you with eczema, and suggested cutting out cow milk to see if it helped your skin to clear up. At this point, Mama was an old pro in handling with food sensitivities, and had no problem switching over to almond milk. All left she had to do was finding the right management for your skin to remain clear.

Fear not, it will happen when you are good and ready. It can happen any time between now until 18 months. You still sport a gummy mouth with no hint of tooth on the horizon! Mama is told that you can get your first tooth at age of two! She certainly most hope not, because then it would be harder on you to deal with pain.

You are so chill. You are happy to go along with everybody. You're perfectly content to just sit on Mama's or Daddy's lap, and watch the world go by you. Your only requirement is that you get to be a part of the flurries during the day. Once in every while, you will throw a fit, and be upset about missing out life. You love your older brothers so much, and to see you being upset by how they handle you is very rare. If you are being tripped over, picked up, held funny, or dragged around, then you just laugh, and want more of it! Mama suppose with you being a third child, you just have to take life's knocks, and see a humor in it!

Mama and Daddy are looking forward so much to watching you grow up into a little person in the following days yet to come.


Mama, Daddy, Forrest, & Franklin

Monday, June 25, 2018

The "Seven-Year Itch"

At 19, I met Stuart, and became a couple. We started dating during our sophomore year, and graduated at twenty-two. We were whisked into life. I went to Washington DC for graduate school, and then worked in Minnesota while Stu worked his way up with teaching. I graduated from Gallaudet University with Master's at twenty-four. Life sped up. We decided to tie the knot at twenty-six. A year later, we had Forrest. Stuart decided to go back to school to get his Master's. We made a lot of sacrifices to make that happen, because education was so important for us, and for Stuart. I got pregnant with Franklin, and Stu got offered a job as an associate principal. We made a big move when I was nearly 6 months pregnant. We finally felt settled in, and comfortable with living in a new town. We began house hunting as we rented from a wonderful couple, and I discovered I was pregnant for the third time! We found a wonderful starter home, fixed it up, and moved in. Unfortunately, right before we moved into our new home, we learned that our pregnancy was not meant to be. With heavy hearts, we let go of that baby, and healed from the loss. As we were healing, we discovered we were expecting once again, and Fox joined us. We were blessed with our three boys, and we couldn't be any happier. Our family continued to grow as our brothers and sisters had children of their own. Stu was offered a job as a head principal at our local middle school, and he decided to take it. 

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Looking at our life together, have we got the Seven Year Itch now? We are officially married for seven years. Imagine that! To be truthful, we have been together for thirteen years and half as we celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary. The itch is a pop culture reference explained by psychologists as a phenomenon when a couple starts to feel dissatisfied, and bored with their relationship, and all the problems start to crop up in a marriage. It's when someone says, oh you have got that itch, don't you? 

I am happy to report that we are pretty content with our marriage, and that there are not any pressing problems to worry about. In other words, no itching for us. I am always thanking our lucky stars to have such an amazing husband who absolutely loves his children, and is always doting on me. He still tells me how beautiful I am even despite experiencing four pregnancies, and with how much motherhood has changed me. Sure, I won't delude any of you into thinking that we have a perfect storybook marriage.

Before you exclaim how perfect we appear to be, I assure you that we have had our moments, and our struggles. We just happen to not air our "dirty laundry", or complain about each other in such way that poses one of us in a negative light. We don't go around obsessing about how wronged we are, or that we must avenge ourselves. We know, and understand that bad stuff will pass. We know we fail sometimes. We choose to forgive each other, and move on. We pick our battles, and let go of minor ones. We are not willing to give up on each other, and we know that even with every storm, it will always pass. As John Kern once said, "Storms make trees take deeper roots", and how true it is. Storms are not necessarily an evil, or a bad thing (even though its adversity can be overwhelming). The storms only goes to prove what our strengths consists of. 

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, wedding, suit and outdoorLet me preface by bringing up an experience we had as a young couple many years ago, and that was our "seven year itch", even though we were not together for 7 years at that point. Nonetheless, what I meant by our 7-year itch in that experience was that there was a difficult discussion to be made in our relationship that could have made, or broke our relationship.

There had been a point in our relationship where we had a very raw, and honest discussion about the paths we were taking in our lives. I still remember that day as if it had happened yesterday. We were sitting on a bench in the middle of a busy outdoor food court in Washington D.C. Stu had flew out to visit me during his school spring break. I was twenty-two, and he was twenty-three. What sparked that conversation, or the turn it took  to what we had discussed was something I did not remember. 

However, I remember the feeling that hung over our heads, and shoulders as we spoke about what we wanted from our lives; children, marriage, me moving back to Wisconsin after I graduated with Master's, and Stu exploring the coaching angle. It was a pinnacle of our relationship. Right there on the bench in a busy food court among the pink blooming cheery trees, several miles down away from White House, among the tourists snapping pictures, commotion floating all around us, and it was such a contradiction to how we felt. Did we have what it takes to have a successful relationship? Did we have what it takes to weather every storm on the horizon? Did we have an ability to overcome an obstacle that may come our way? Were we together, because we grew comfortable with each other, and afraid of unfamiliarity? We started dating when we were quite young. Were we missing out on potentials by being together? Did we stop each other from achieving our dreams? Our lives were literally at our feet. What felt like hours--in reality, it was probably a half hour conversation--we concluded that we were prepared to weather every storm, overcome every obstacle that came our way, and uplift each other to our successes. 

We walked away with relief riddled with some reservations. The reservations we had was geared towards the unknown. As scary as it was, we were determined to face the unknown together. 

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And the unknown we did face. And continued to.

I could have not asked for someone else to be my life partner, my husband, and my best friend to navigate together through the deep waters. When I look back on to our entire relationship, I am amazed by how many obstacles we have overcome, how the path we are on has taken us to where we are today, and it is quite amazing. I think of all the moments, and can't help but to feel a bit emotional, especially with the birth of our third baby. We are so blessed to have three beautiful boys, a solid marriage, a home with a roof over our heads, and to be finally in a financially sound place. It is just a huge weight off our shoulders to achieve this sense of security that we have craved for so long.

Stu and I were talking the other day, I made a confession that sometimes I don't feel quite like an adult, because we are still so new at this parenthood gig, establishing career, and settling down in a place that we hopefully can call our home for a long while. It doesn't feel like we have been married for 7 years! It still feels so new to us; this marriage thing, raising our kids, finally getting around to sprucing our home with interior decorating and making this home OURS, and developing friendships through our kids. I wonder if others look at us, and think that we are still so young, that we have our "shit together" (we do, I assure you), and we are just gaining our confidence as adults. Stu smiled, and said, you know we should feel like it is still new to us, because we still have about sixty years or hopefully more ahead of us yet!

It is amazing how it is a blink of time from a certain experience to the next. In one moment, I am just starting out life on my own, then the next blink, I am a mom of three boys and married to a fantastic man.  When I look at our relationship in its entirety, I am truly amazed by how much we have gone through as a couple, and as individuals, and we are still together. It is not that I had my doubts that we would have lasted. It is just that there is a sense of amazement from those series of moments that have essentially created life for us. I don't doubt that we will continue to experience more things that will shape us, our marriage, and ourselves. I hope that there will be a lot more positive than not. I am not naive to think that we will never again be riddled with difficulties, or that nothing bad will happen to us. Our miscarriage has taught us that very brutal lesson, but at least I know that we have strength to overcome painful moments.

As our cousin Sara has written in the 7th letter to us, with all of her joking aside, there will always be good and bad days. There will be times when we will be so angry with each other, and question in that moment why we are together. Fortunately, when that question does come up, we do have an answer in despite of our anger, pain, and sadness. And that answer is love. We love each other. It's not like oh, yeah yeah I love him. Sure thing.

Our love at its most base is unconditional. After all, Stu did learn my language. He learned how to communicate with me. He embraced my culture. I am constantly reminded by that when I go out there to hang out with my Deaf friends; I look at their relationships, specifically hearing-Deaf couples, they don't know how to communicate with each other, and they don't sign fluently to each other. Their children don't know sign language. It blows my mind. How can you be with someone, who is Deaf, and can't sign to him/her? I promise you that it is not coming from a place of judgment. It's coming from a place of bewilderment, because I don't have that experience, and I have a hard time understanding how that is possible. How can you do that if you really love someone?

I know Stu loves me beyond what can be measured. I am incredibly blessed, and lucky to have him. He has seen me at my darkest, and he still loves me. He will tell you the same about me. He will tell you that I lift him up when he's down, cheer him on when he thinks that going is getting to be difficult, and forgive him when he does wrong.

No matter what happens, we will always love each other. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Fox is TWELVE Months Old

Dear Mr. Fantastic Fox,

You are TWELVE months old. It is hard to believe that a year has gone by so quickly, because it does feel like it is just yesterday when we brought you home from the hospital. Just like your older brothers, you are an incredible gift, and the one that we are extremely thankful for. You are our anchor of hope, and you've shown to us on a daily basis that hope after pain is possible. There has not been a day that has gone by that you are being kissed, hugged, held, and told how special you are. We are so, so blessed to have you.

A week before you were born, Mama spoke with her doctor, and jokingly whispered to her belly that you had to stay put in until after the 17th, because there was a family event, and a wedding that she wanted to attend. On the night before you were born, Mama gently caressed her belly as you rolled around inside, and she told you that you could come anytime now. On the morning of the day you were born, Daddy was sure that you would come that day (he had an uncanny knack of knowing when you boys will come), and Mama was not so sure, because nothing was happening. Four hours before you were born, Mama and Daddy were on way to the hospital, and Mama was feeling pretty good! Matter of fact, she was not even sure if it was even time to go in! Twenty minutes before you were born, Mama's water broke, and it was happening! You made a dramatic entrance into the world, not wanting to wait for anybody, and ended up being delivered by yourself! Two minutes after you were born, you were placed into Mama's arms, everything was all right once again in her world, and you were a blissfully perfect bundle of 6 pounds and 13 oz. 

You entered the world with your eyes wide open. You were the most alert baby out of you three kids. It was as if you found everything to be so miraculous, and you could not bear the thought of missing out on the beauty of life. Soon, this became very clear that you HAD to be involved with everything. You were not one of those babies that contently sat back, and allowed the world to go by. You needed to be in it, to be a part of it, and to keep up. You did not like being left behind. As result of this, your older brothers often brought you along with them as they embarked on their imaginative journey of playing pirates (you were often the Kraken, or a shark), or shooting through the dark space (you were the royal imperial trooper on a hunt for Han Solo and Chewbecca), or exploring a dense jungle filled with Velociraptors poised to attack (you were the stolen raptor baby). 

You do not like not being able to see anything around you. More often than not, when Mama is hiking, you often ride on her back with you looking over her shoulders. If Mama attempts to put you face in to her chest, then there's hell to pay. You scream, kick, and wail as you try to twist around, and climb out to escape from the formidable position that you are placed in. Lesson learned. Never babywear you facing in! So off you go to ride on her back instead. If you are on the floor, then you're zooming everywhere to keep up with your brothers, or Beatrice as she sniffs for food. You're determined, assertive, bold, driven, alert, demanding, boisterous, and ferocious. It is already evident since day one!  You are the one to watch out for! 

You have already taken a few steps with a help from a walker just like Mama had predicted (she had predicted you'd start walking before you turn one)! Soon you will blow everybody away, and start running, because walking is way too mundane for you. You're too wildly unconstrained to be patient enough to wait life out. You're going to go after life running, because you just don't want to miss out on anything!

You're a trouble maker, yes you are. You find ways to escape from your high chair, and more often than not, you're standing up, and about to take a plunge out of the chair. Mama has discovered more than several white hair strands, and you know it is because of you, and your brothers! You're always getting yourself into the situations that you must be rescued from. You're a little explorer already! Between Forrest and Franklin, you're set for a lifetime of adventures, and craziness. You scowl, wrinkle your nose, blow raspberries in fury at anybody who dares to defy you, when you are not being catered quickly enough, and when you are tired. 

You're a champ at sleeping. You're FINALLY sleeping through the night. The days of you barely sleeping is behind us, and Mama is oh, so relieved. You take two naps a day, and usually sleep for about 2 hours. Sleep training is one of the best things she could have done, because now you're settled in a routine, and comfortable with going to sleep on your own. HOWEVER, Mama must make a confession, one that many parents may relate and nod in agreement: when you cry and fuss, she goes in to pick you up, and hold you against her chest until your little body goes slack, and your breathing becomes slower, and she puts you back to bed. Those moments are so momentary. She has realized from raising your brothers that time waits for no one, and to truly cherish babyhood while it lasts. So when you cry to be picked up, even for a minute or two, Mama is willing to do just that, because before we all know it, you will be a young child, and no longer want to be held like that anymore.

You're nursing less, and less. You've successfully dropped all feeds except the last two that usually happens when you wake up for the day, and when you go to bed for the night. Soon, you will be all done, and it will be that for our nursing journey. It makes Mama sad, because it marks an end of your infancy. Your babyhood is very much like sand falling through Mama's fingers. It is going by so quickly, and is so fleeting. It is why Mama is cherishing everything with you, because before she knows it, it will be the last time, and she wouldn't know it until it has already passed. 

You are signing MORE! You understand signs, but aren't quite willing to sign them yourself just yet. You reach out either to say hello, or I love you. That one Mama and Daddy are still figuring out what it quite means for you yet! You say Mama, oh oh oh, ah ah, and babble! Of course, you scream, and blow raspberries when you are upset. You love digging through your cupboard to take out the Tupperware containers, stack them up, and create a mess! You laugh, coo, and babble loudly as you cause a wreck! You love blinking, whirling, and beeping toys.

A tooth is still not on the horizon. You drool like crazy though. It does not surprise Mama that you are still toothless. Just like Forrest and Franklin, you are late at teething, and they will come when they come. 

While Mama is definitely more sentimental about you growing out of your infancy, Daddy is quite excited for you to reach the age of being able to play with your brothers, and him. He eagerly looks forward to the day when you are able to participate in wrestling with them, to cheer for Packers, go fishing, boating, and camping. He talks endlessly about you playing, and doing activities with him. Daddy loves to pick you up, lift you high above him in the air (much to Mama's dismay), and twirl you around like an airplane. Mama tries to caution him, which leads to him laughing, and saying, oh he's just going to be fine! Daddy loves to put you on his shoulders, and run after your brothers. You grasp your tiny fingers in his hair, and laugh wildly. Daddy loves to be able to grab you, toss you gently, and get you laughing. While Daddy has a tendency to roughhouse with you, there has been tender moments between you and him, and it is absolutely precious. Mama often finds Daddy dozing on the sofa with your head against his chest, thumb in your mouth, and it was so sweet seeing you snuggling together.

The whole family is blessed to have you in their lives. It has been a joy to watch you grow in the past twelve months.

Happy birthday, love.


Mama, Daddy, Forrest, & Franklin

Friday, May 18, 2018

Fox is ELEVEN Months Old

Dear Fox, 

You are ELEVEN months old. You're a month away from turning a year old. How is that possible? Every person Mama talks to is in an agreement that it feels like you had just been born, yet you are a month away from turning a year old? Mama's heart is about to burst with all of the FEELS of thinking about this! 

You are always on the GO GO GO GO. You despite staying still. Something on your body is always moving. Let it be your foot. Hand. Arm. Leg. You fight diaper, and clothes changes. Mama and Daddy feel like you are training them to be an alligator wrestler! Thank goodness that the weather is finally warming up...because that means less clothes to fight be put on you! You zoom everywhere as fast as possible in order to keep up with your older brothers. You fight being strapped in your carseat by arching your back, and kicking your legs as if you are saying, NO YOU CAN'T RESTRAIN ME! Once you realize that you are strapped in, you give in, and becomes placid. 

You are quite vocal, and expressive. You scream, and blubber when you notice that you aren't being attended quick enough. You're quite demanding, you. Forrest jokingly calls you our "Boss Baby", because you're always "conducting meetings" from us. You make yourself very clearly. For instance, when we go hiking, you are not satisfied with being baby worn facing in to Mama's chest until you are put on her BACK in order for you to look around your surroundings over her shoulder.  You very much so prefer it this way. You scream angrily when you are placed in your high chair, because at that point, your patience has run out, and you MUST HAVE FOOD in front of you IMMEDIATELY. When you are frustrated, you blow raspberries, and trill until you get what you want. It's quite hilarious. You are always on an outlook for everything. If something happens, then you must be present to witness it. You have a serious case of FOMO--a fear of missing out--and must be involved at all cost. 

You absolutely love strawberries, which doesn't surprise Mama, because when Mama carried you, all she wanted is strawberries! It is a good thing that strawberries is about to be ready to be picked up from the pasture, because then Mama can gather as many strawberries as possible to make the boys' favorite; strawberry jam! You show a strong preference for fresh food. Just like Franklin, you have not met food that you have yet to like, and you are very willing to sample anything. Matter of fact, you have recently tried shrimp, and liked it! You love zucchini, broccoli, squash, and cukes. You enjoy gnawing on a pickle, even though you often show a sour face while eating it! 

You enjoy getting into mischief by opening cabinet doors, and pulling whatever out onto the floor around you. You love banging on pots, saucepans, and tupperware. It is your slice of heaven to be able to just do that! Mama has decided to dedicate one cupboard to you to explore, and play safely without worrying about you getting harmed during the process of doing so. You love climbing up the stairs, even though you have not quite mastered going back downstairs, because the idea of doing that scares you a bit. You love chase after the broom as Mama sweeps around the house. You laugh at Bea when she tries to take your food. Sometimes, you end up blowing raspberries at her! You get so determined to stay with your older brothers, and make it very clear that they are not allowed to abandon you.

Forrest adores you so. He kisses, sings, talks, and shows you things. He picks you up quite often, and carries you around. You show no fear, even when he accidentally chokes or drops you, and you just laugh, and beg to be picked up again (much to Mama's dismay). The only time Mama sees Forrest getting upset with you is when you try to touch one of his books, and accidentally mishandles it improperly. Such a bookworm, that one is. Mama has to remind Forrest that you are only a baby, and need to be gently shown not to mishandle any books so roughly. 

Franklin is showing less interest in you, not because he doesn't love you any less, but because he's 3. Nonetheless, when he does pay attention to you, he often tries to share food with you, and to console you when you are crying. He enjoys playing in a proximity of you, and often show interest in your toys! Franklin likes to notify Mama when you are up, or sad, or getting into trouble. Franklin likes to help Mama to push your stroller, and it makes him feel special when he is able to handle his big brother duties for you! 

You are starting to say Mama, mama, and mama almost constantly! This has started very recently when Mama noticed you talking as she walked away, and it is confirmed that you are saying Mama!  You repeat yourself until you are picked up by Mama, and secured in her arms. While you don't mind being held by your familiar people, you show the most preference to be in Mama's arms, and to be by her. You are nursing less, and less, which fits the timeline of weaning off breastmilk, and Mama is hoping to have you to be fully weaned around by your first birthday. You are sleeping through the night like a champ with waking up once in early hours of the morning to nurse. The only time you regress with sleeping is when you are in pain, and feeling unwell. Teething is still a distance on the horizon. Who knows, you might surprise us all with a tooth soon! 

Your favorite toy these days is being in a box! Yes, just a box. You love to shake, kick, roll around, and explore anything inside a box. You are even happier when you have a strawberry in your hand, and toys surrounding you in a box. What a funny boy that you are! Your legs are getting stronger, and stronger. You are able to pull yourself up with an ease, and without your legs shaking, or you toppling over. You lock your legs stiff when you are determined to maintain your balance! Mama thinks you might be walking around your first birthday, but who knows, you may surprise her by walking later! 

With summer around the corner, Mama and Daddy are eager to take you boys hiking, fishing, and swimming. It will be fun to expose you to all the new things, especially with swimming, and see how you react to them! 

We are looking forward to what month 11 will bring to you, and to us! 

Mama, Daddy, Forrest, and Franklin 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fox is TEN Months Old

Dear Fox,

You are TEN months old. You are officially in the double digits!

You celebrated your first Easter by visiting Mama's side of the family. You got plenty of teething toys, baby food, and a few outfits from the Easter Bunny. You enjoyed Easter food! You definitely loved strawberries over anything else at the Easter dinner. You didn't care much for the egg hunt, but enjoyed playing with the plastic eggs that your brothers manage to gather from the hunt. You and your brothers sure looked handsome on that day!

You continued to sample a wide range of food. You loved cooked spinach, blueberries, strawberries, and any type of meat the most over anything else. You loved having meals with your brothers, and often laughed in glee as they offered you their food.

You sport toothless mouth as you giggle, coo, and scream. Dr. Karbon said that she has not seen any teeth about to erupt yet. Mama isn't worried. You boys are late teethers! She is not expecting to see a tooth closer to a year. You are a screamer. You scream when you are frustrated, when you are excited, or when you are tired. It's your favorite mode of getting attention!

Much to Mama's delight, you have started sleeping through the night. Yes, my dear Mr. Fantastic Fox, what an accomplishment! You sleep from your bedtime until 1 am, or 2 am, then wake up to nurse, and go back to sleep until Mama comes in the morning to wake you up. You are also napping like a champ. You sleep for 2 hours to 2 hours and half in the afternoons. Mama is definitely doing a celebratory dance around the house. The terrible sleep has become a thing of the past...*knocks on the wood*.

You're still nursing, even though the nursing sessions are gradually being dropped, and you're no longer as interested as you used to be. You are always distracted, and wanting to focus on something else other than nursing. Mama isn't very worried; you are getting plenty of nutrition by eating meals, and snacks as well as being supplemented by nursing. Mama is hoping that the weaning process will be easy for you, because she has a goal of you being completely weaned by the time you turn 12-13 months old. 

Daddy had to lower your crib mattress, because Mama discovered you standing up in your crib one evening, and ever since, you were very adamant to pull yourself up to try get over the railing! No way Jose! Daddy ended up lowering the crib the following day. You continued to pull yourself up to stand up. However, this time, the top part of the railing was way above your head so you were unable to topple over, and remained safe...and contained!

You are able to crawl off your belly! Because of this, you are constantly on the move. You continue to zoom everywhere rather quickly! You have taught yourself how to climb up the steps. It also didn't help that you had two older brothers cracking up storm laughing, screaming, and encouraging you to follow them up the stairs! Now the adventure of you attempting to explore the rest of the house has begun; you are always getting into everything, and everything is a big adventure for you! You are pulling yourself up to your feet! You are able to cruise on the sofa. You like to grip on anything, then take a few steps. It is not quite "true" steps, but you are getting there! People say that it is a first step toward you learning how to walk. Oh lord. Oh lord. Soon, Mama will have three very ambulatory boys! Who needs a gym when Mama has all three of you?

Earlier in the month, you woke up with a nasty viral rash that left you looking sunburnt! Fortunately, Mama was told that it was a typical reaction to a bad cold, and that you should return back to looking like yourself. Sure enough, by the end of the day; your sunburn rash faded away, and you started to feel better. That was scary though!

You visited Dr. Karbon for your 9-month wellness check recently. You weighed 17 pounds 14 oz, and measured to be at 29 inches tall. You received a last booster of a flu shot, which was something you did not like, and also had your finger pricked for a lead test. Everything else checked out great for you!

You are most comfortable with familiarity, and people you know. When you are around people you don't know very well, you make it known that you no longer want to be in their presence by reaching to Mama. You don't like new situations, and get overwhelmed easily. With some time, you grow okay with the idea, and become more comfortable. It is possible that you might err on the shy side, but it's hard to say, since babies do typically go through this stage between 8-12 months old.

Mama is growing impatient with winter overstaying its welcome. It had not been much of spring these days with a lot of snowing, and freezing rain. Matter of fact, you got to experience your first major historical blizzard that broke records from left to the right! We spent several days snow-bounded, and you boys were quite excited to see all of the snow. Nonetheless, Mama is rather anxious for warmer days to swoop in, and stay for good, then she can start going out for walks with you, and the boys. The boys are always asking to play at a park, and wanting to play outside. Let's hope that spring will arrive very soon?


Daddy, Mama, Forrest, & Franklin 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Fox is NINE Months Old

Dear Fox,

You are NINE months old. You're three months away from turning a year old. It boggles Mama's mind how quickly time is going by.

Mama decided to start sleep training you, and what an ordeal it had been! She took away your pacifier, because she decided it was a good time for you to be weaned off them, since you were able to fall asleep without needing one for your morning naps. So you went cold turkey! Boy, let me tell you, you were NOT happy about losing your pacifier, and made your feelings very clear about this. You fussed for a half hour before falling asleep for your afternoon nap. That come evening, boy, there was a hell to pay. You screamed, and cried for an hour, and half! It proved to be difficult for you, and Mama. Nonetheless with a lot of patience, you resigned to falling asleep, and stay asleep. To Mama's great surprise, you slept until 2:30 am, nursed, then went back to sleep! The following day, you barely fussed for your afternoon nap, and went to bed with minimal crying that lasted less than five minutes.

You love sleeping on your belly. It is funny. Each of you boy have your own sleeping preference. Forrest loves to curl up like cat, and sleep in a feral position on his side. Franklin is most content sleeping with his arms, and legs splayed everywhere while laying on his back! You are a belly sleeper.

At first when you discovered this, Mama was not a fan, and worried about your ability to breath while sleeping on your belly.  You were her first boy to sleep on the belly, and it was a new territory for her. She tried to flip you to your side, or back, and you were quite adamant to roll back onto your belly. After mama realized how MUCH better you sleep on your belly, she let you be, and sure enough, you started sleeping longer, and longer at the night. Mama learned that colicky babies often preferred sleeping on their bellies, because the pressure on their bellies reduce the gas pains in babies.

You still nap in the van in the mornings during the weekday, because it's the only time that Mama can consistently keep you on the schedule for nap in the mornings. You nap from 10-11 am. On the weekends, you sleep longer than an hour. For the afternoons, you sleep anywhere from 1 hour and half to two hours...sometimes two hours and half in your crib! What a turnaround from you napping under an hour! You start your bedtime routine after supper, and nurse 20-25 minutes prior going to sleep, enjoy a bedtime story with your brothers and Dad, get dressed, and have your music turned on, then you go to sleep. You fall asleep within 5 minutes! You're gradually sleeping longer, and longer at night. You wake up at anywhere between 11 pm-12 am to be fed, and go back to sleep until between 2-4 am for another feedings. Mama LOVES this new schedule. 

Currently, your sleeping schedule is a tad messed up due to you having a fever. It appears that you have caught Forrest's cold, and sleep has been evading from you. Poor dear. Hopefully within a few days, you will be back to your old self, and be on a regular sleeping schedule. It is also not fun to see you so miserable from feeling sick. You don't handle being sick very well, and most certainly no one blame you for that! 

Along with other dilemma on top of you having a cold, the Daylight saving business has thrown a screw into your brand new sleeping schedule. You, being a particular little gentleman, does NOT appreciate how the DST isn't lining up quite nicely with your internal clock. Nonetheless, Mama is quite determined to carry on as normal with your routine. In time, all should recover for you.

You're getting better at this eating shtick! You're determined to use your pincher grasp ability to pick up food, and shove it into your mouth. You're also able to drink from your sippy cup from observing how your brothers tip the water bottle as they help you drink. One day, you happen to pick it up on your own, and tipped the bottle back. Boom! The history is made on that day, and you're loving it ever since. You continue to eat whatever what the family is eating, and has not met a food you dislike. However, Mama has discovered your favorite food: spinach! It does make a lot of sense seeing that spinach is one of Mama's cravings while pregnant with you. Wilted spinach is a big hit with you! You love eating Cheerios, because it is something your brothers, and you can share together. You demand for Cheerios when you see them eating a bowlful! You also LOVE yogurt melt its, especially the berry flavored one.

You're now sitting up unassisted with no problem, even though you still prefer laying on your stomach while playing, and you are able to also sit upright on your knees for a few minutes before toppling over. You're working so hard at rocking back and forth as you are off your stomach for crawling. Mama can see that you are on the verge of taking off, and it is just a matter of time before you realize you are able to move in that position. You love pulling yourself up on your knees to reach to things above you. Sometimes you do get stuck, and get upset!

You LOVE taking baths! You enjoy splashing, and tasting bath water. You love it even more when one or both of your brothers join you (even though it makes the whole bathing ordeal even messier). You laugh, coo, and kick at the water. You're fascinated by the bubbles. You try to eat them! Water fills you with joy. It's rather endearing to witness.

You are beginning to recognize certain signs. You respond to MILK, SLEEP, and CHANGE (diapers). You get excited when you see the sign for MILK, and respond jovially. You know it meant getting fed! Mama is working on getting you to recognize FOOD for eating. So far, you have not made the association between the sign FOOD with eating solids. Fear not, you will pick up on it in no time!

You are now in 12 months clothing, not due to your weight, but to your height! The only fat on you is in your thighs! Besides that, you're a lean baby. Mama has switched out your 9 month to 12 month clothing for your dresser. It is nice to see a few summer outfits starting to appear among your winter stash. It means that spring is on its way soon...right? Who knows with Wisconsin weather?! 

Easter is coming up soon. It will be fun for you to celebrate your first Easter! Your 9 month wellness check is also coming up next month. Your wellness checks are always fun for Mama, because she enjoy getting stats about your overall well-being, and be updated with how you are doing health-wise. Aside from this fever and cold, you are a generally healthy little fellow, and there is no worry when it comes to your wellness appointments.

Hopefully in no time, you will be back to your regular content self, and warm weather will finally bestow upon us all for spring!


Mama, Daddy, Forrest, and Franklin