Dear Alex & Olivia,
Today the reality that life moves quickly is sitting right in front of me. Today and tomorrow are holidays in Haiti, so we get a 4 day weekend, which is a nice treat. It is, however, providing lots of time to reflect on stuff.
Olivia, this morning we took our last “school drive” for this year. You have your closing program next week, but today is the last day of classes for you. With it being a holiday I almost forgot that you had school, until you came out of your room this morning a bit bleary eyed and said, “Is today a school day?” like you do almost every morning. You’ve loved this year and we’ve loved seeing you blossom and get excited about learning. I was thinking yesterday that this time last year the thought of trying you in school this year was just a thought and a conversation and an “I think we’re doing this come September” thing. At first we were only going to send you two days a week, but after the first week we decided to go whole hog and we’ve developed a nice little routine. Yesterday I realized that it was one of the best decisions I think we’ve made as parents so far. You were ready and you’ve loved it. You’ve had so much fun this year learning letters and making friends. You even surprised me on Mother’s Day when we gave you some paper and pens to distract you during the missionary meeting and you wrote your name. You’ve been working on it for a long time, but it was there clear as day.
This morning on our drive you filled the time by telling me all sorts of stories. This is something new for you since Daddy has been making up stories about Chippy, Blackie and Bluey for bedtime. You love them and it’s opened up this whole concept that people can make up stories to tell without having to always read a book. Today all of your stories revolved around you being married, and everything being pink and having babies. You and your husband went to your school several times and did all sorts of things. When I asked how old you were going to be when you got married you thought about it for a second and said, “Um, I think 14.” I’m glad you have no concept of age and time yet. When you started talking about having babies in your tummy I asked if you knew that you should be married before you had babies, and thankfully you gave me that, “Um, duh Mom,” sigh and eye roll from the back seat when you said, “Yes Mom, I know that!” I figure it’s good to start these lessons early.
Baby Girl, Daddy and I are so proud of you and are so excited to see you becoming more of the little person that you are. You’re a ball of fun, even when you drive us crazy. Some days I wonder if we aren’t doing more damage than good as parents, but then you go and do something that makes me realize that we’re on the right track. Like the other day when you apologized to Daddy, all on your own, for hurting him. And then you apologized to me for having a complete melt down. “Mommy, I’m sorry I cried so much.” Sigh. These are the days an moments that make us realize that maybe we won’t be complete failures as parents.
Alex, you’re almost 11 months old and it’s becoming very obvious that you are an entirely different parenting experience unfolding before our eyes. Your sister was a lot more subdued and calm at this stage in the game. She was content to hang out in her bouncy seat or sit on the floor playing with toys, watching the world go by. Not you. You are one active little monkey. And yes, monkey is a very fitting description of you right now. You’ve been standing up for a while now, but in the last few weeks you realized that you had the ability to climb things. It’s not uncommon for us to find you standing on the back of the couch looking out the window and contemplating how to get yourself up onto the 8″ window sill so you can be that six inches higher up. Oh yes, you’ve crashed, but that doesn’t stop you. Last weekend as I was making breakfast I turned around and found you up on one of the kitchen chairs. You had pushed the little red chair around the house until it crashed into the kitchen chair, then decided to climb on the little chair (something you’ve been doing for about a month) and soon realized that it was a mere stepping stone to the bigger chair. You were happily playing with the salt and pepper shakers when I saw you, but by the time you Dad came into the room a few minutes later after I had turned my back for less than a minute we found you on the table. You apparently think this is a fun place to be because you tried it again several times yesterday.
I wish that was where it stopped, but it’s not. You’ve realized that if you push the little chair over to the counters you can actually see what’s up there and start taking things down. You almost gave me a heart attack when I found you, chair pushed up against the sink, you standing on it, and holding a paring knife by the handle swinging it around like you were doing some sort of ninja show. Yonese had been washing dishes and stepped away for a couple minutes and I guess you thought it looked fun. Thankfully we learned with your sister that being really calm is often the best thing in these situations so I just walked over and took the knife, then moved you, and then you got mad. Sorry for ruining your fun kid.
I don’t want you to feel like everything you do is causing trouble. The other day I was working and I heard swishing from the bathroom and realized we’d forgotten to put the toilet seat down. I went to check things out expecting to find you having a grand old time splashing around in the bowl and instead found this…
The next day you were out on the deck and I found you doing this…
Apparently you’re an observant child. I figure we might as well harness it while we can. Yonese hit the nail on the head yesterday when we were shaking our heads at what you’ve been up to in the last week when she said, “Your work has just doubled because you’re going to have to watch everything that he’s doing.” Amen, sister. Especially when it results in something like this:
I’m hoping that the lesson learned was that you should NOT climb up on the cooler on the deck then grab the door handle and bang on the door for someone to open it, even if it is very slowly, because it causes one to lose their balance and fall on their face resulting in a nose bleed, two cuts to the inner upper lip and scratches from the door mat that leaves one looking like they were in a gang fight. Considering that you later climbed onto one of the patio chairs and shook it until it fell over and gave you a bruise on your forehead, the lesson probably didn’t sink in.
One really fun thing right now is that you’re working on your land legs. With all your climbing we’ve taught you how to get yourself down off certain pieces of furniture which has eliminated a lot of stranded adventurer whining, and has also given you more confidence. In the past few days you’ve been working on your balance and have been surprising Daddy and I with testing out your standing abilities. Just this morning you discovered that you can see your reflection in the oven door and we sat there watching you stand all by yourself admiring your reflection for about a minute without holding on to anything before you gently lowered yourself down to squatting. We’re pretty sure you’ll be walking soon and that’s exciting, but after the things we’ve been seeing from you recently, it’s also a bit scary.
You are really inquisitive and I can see you’ve got a brain that wants to know how things work. You love to figure out the process behind things. Like, if you hit something it makes a sound. The other day we were at the table and you were playing with the napkin hold and banging on it like a drum. You decided to stand it back on end and moved it around a bit to see what would happen, but when it didn’t do much you turned it back on it’s side and went back to drumming. You love to drop things out of the bathtub to see what happens.
You love food. You sit right at the table with us now and I usually just put pieces of food from our meal in front of you. You like being independent and feeding yourself. One day recently we were eating lasagna and it was too messy for you to eat on your own, so I tried spoon feeding you. You pushed my hand away and protested because I wasn’t letting you do it yourself. You also like to peek around the table while we’re eating to see what everyone else has on their plates, and you protest if you don’t have the same things.
You love water. I got you a very small blow up pool while in the DR as a present and you love to have us fill it up so you can play on the deck. It’s small enough that you can crawl in and out and you’ll play out there for hours, happy as a little clam, er, fish.
You’re also playing around with speech. For a while we just thought you were babbling, but you are definitely experimenting with different sounds and like to repeat things. You’re definitely starting to say “Mama” or “Mum”. Even your Daddy agrees. Not always in reference to me, but you’re working on it. “Oh!” is your favorite. Just this morning Yonese was doing dishes and dropped some things and it made a loud noise. From your seat at the table you looked at her and said, “Oh!” We all had a good giggle from that, especially since it’s a Haitian expression. I’m pretty sure you’ll end up speaking better Creole than the rest of us because you’ll be starting so much younger.
You’re smily and happy most of the time, and you love to laugh. You’re a big cheese too. As soon as the camera comes out you are all smiles. You do have a bit of a temper and have been getting more vocal when you don’t get your own way. Sometimes it’s funny, but other times it makes me realize that we’re going to have to be on our parenting game from an earlier age than your sister. She didn’t really realize she had opinions about things until well after turning a year old. Fun, fun!
One thing that I love about you kids is that you love each other. You enjoy playing together and you’re excited to see each other if you’ve been a part. Olivia, you can make Alex giggle and laugh at your silly antics, and Alex, I’ve never seen a 10 month old able to pin their 4 year old sibling on the floor quite like you do. Recently, with the days getting a bit longer here, you two have had a hard time going to bed. Several nights per week, even after a good ol’ college try, you aren’t quite ready to go to go down. What results is Alex running around in his crib squawking at Olivia, and Olivia hissing, “Al-lex! Go to sleep!” which just sort of eggs you on, dear boy. You both like bath time with the bubble machine, and finding other uses for bubbles besides bathing.
Well kidlets, I’m going to sign off there. Mommy wants to enjoy the day off too! Daddy and I love you so much it almost breaks my heart. We’re so blessed by the two of you and while we wish we could bottle you and save you like this forever, we’re also excited to watch you grow up and become the people God has made you to be.