Monday, May 28, 2018

Marshall: Four Years

Dear Marshall,

Happy fourth birthday! You are officially four, now that you have blown out the candles (you reminded us that you had to wait until you blew out the candles before you could turn four), and you are such a gift in our lives. We are so grateful to have enjoyed another joyous, full, lively year with you. 

Newly three--almost a year ago

You are developing so many new facets to your identity: big brother, friend, preschooler. You have found ways to grow in each role, and we are so proud to see you becoming the person you are.

Your relationship with Declan continues to deepen. In recent weeks, we've seen some buds of friendship: wrestling together, your sweet and sincere offers to help him when he can't quite get a toy to work, kisses goodnight. For the most part, you two are still just coexisting, but these glimmers of potential for future closeness certainly make me so happy.

This year had some significant challenges, including moving away from your beloved preschool in Santa Monica, as well as your first best friend. I'll admit that my first concern about moving was how hard it would be on you to adjust to a new school, new teachers, new friends, on top of a new home and new routines. But you amazed us, as always, and immediately took to all the newness, befriending several kids at school and embracing the school we found for you. We still miss your old school and old friends, but we and thrilled to see just how resilient and open you are to the challenge of change.

I love watching you try new things and figure out problems for yourself. You have always been patient, observant, and thoughtful, so it delights me to see you channeling those qualities into problem solving. You're so proud of yourself when you do something on your own!

This year has also been a year of growth for me and your dad. We're trying so hard to understand your emotions, to help you through tough moments, and sometimes we fail and lose our patience. As our first kid, you have the unfortunate role of guiding us through the toddler years for the first time, and I know it's not always easy. I promise we're giving it our all. We work together long after you go to sleep to try to understand you better, to try to find ways to support your growth, to make sure we aren't imposing any pressure on you. I hope above all that you know how much we love you and that we are trying every day to do right by you.

This year has been filled with adventure! Sometimes that adventure has been a bit tumultuous, but most of the time it's been a blast!

For your birthday, we celebrated with a trip to San Francisco. You love the Golden Gate Bridge, so we walked across it (it was windy and freezing, so you hung in the stroller most of the time!), plus we rode a cable car and enjoyed a sundae at Ghirardelli Square. 

I can't possibly describe the joy of your entire fourth year in one post, but here are some of the highlights and fun facts:

Height (at age 4): 42 inches (85%)
Weight: 37 pounds (62%)

Favorite toys: Haley, your Captain America stuffed toy that you sleep with most nights (named after your cousin Haley; you also have one named Colby who lives in your bed but doesn't come everywhere with you like Haley); superhero capes and masks; trains and train tracks; cars and trucks.

Favorite games and activities: READING is still your very favorite thing to do! Also, pretending to be Elsa (from Frozen), pretending to be superheroes (we haven't figured out your favorite yet, but you seem to gravitate toward Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, which is thrilling for your daddy because you're all about DC but disappointing for me because Marvel is WAY better), running around after your bath with your towel on your head like a cape, driving in Daddy's work cars, helping Mommy in the kitchen.

Favorite foods: Mac and cheese, sweets and treats of any kind, fruit, pepperoni pizza, eggs and toast, oatmeal, quesadillas, and sweet potatoes.

Favorite shows: You generally don't like watching TV or movies, but you've found a few things you are willing to watch, including Tumble Leaf on Amazon Prime and YouTube videos of Disney songs. We're making some slow progress on encouraging you to watch Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street, but not much luck so far. I know we should be grateful that you aren't obsessed with TV, but we wouldn't mind chilling with you to watch a show now and then!

Least favorite things: transitioning from one activity to the next, being woken up (especially by your brother), sharing with your brother.

Some notes:
I've said it before, but you are incredibly observant and always have been. Now, of course, those observations are translating to repeating specific phrases we say, memorizing entire songs, describing every detail of the human body (from a unit at your preschool), and remembering obscure moments from so long ago we can't imagine how you can possibly still have them in your head.

You love to name your toys lately, almost always girls with names like "Boaty" for a boat.

You say such funny phrases and have the most expressive face and gestures. I could listen to you for hours! I hope you always love telling stories in some capacity.

You are growing so quickly, and too often I look at you and suddenly see a seven-year-old or twelve-year-old where my tiny toddler should be. I'm clinging to little things--like our bedtime routine where you snuggle with me for a story and let me sing you a song before sleep, or when you need a kiss from me if you scrape your knee, or when you become unspeakably excited about construction trucks--before they're gone too soon. 

Marshall, we are infinitely proud of the sweet, thoughtful, curious person you are. We truly look forward to every day with you, and we are excited for what this year brings.

We love you, sweet boy!

April 2018

April 2018 in a few photos...

The  boys are really into trains right now, and even Declan can assemble a few pieces of the track by himself. Marshall has made some impressive multi-level tracks, too! 

Scout's in on the action. (I caught him like this when I ran back in the house after we had left for an errand, and I like to think that he was in the middle of playing with the trains and hadn't meant to be caught.)

Go Bruins! 

When you're uncle is in charge of a super cool construction project, you get to visit and watch the magic happen!

Smoothies ("shmoozies") with mama.

Yoga baby.

Playing with trains at our local Barnes & Noble

Shortly after this photo was taken, we handed Declan a napkin, which he promptly dipped into the soup. 

Superhero play is also at an all-time high. Daddy is not upset about it.

Now that rainy season seems mostly over, we're excited to check out more hiking and local parks. Marshall walked most of one way on this one, even though some hills were pretty tough!

Baby couldn't hang.

For Terry's recent birthday, Marshall helped me bake the cake. He suggested (demanded?) "vanilla cake with chocolate frosting" and Terry didn't argue.

Happy birthday to this wonderful man!

After cake, we told Declan to put his hands up to avoid wiping his hands all over himself, and he sat there like this for a solid minute, probably wondering what the heck was going on (and why we started laughing so hard). 

Our first outdoor dinner in our backyard!

We took advantage of a hot weekend day and ventured out to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (the closest beach to my family as a kid!). We will be back several times this summer for sure!

I've been on a pretty decent cooking streak lately, trying out new recipes and just helping us eat out less. While I don't post much about food and cooking (or at all...) anymore, I do still meal plan every week, I focus a lot on real food but of course welcome and enjoy treats, and I still love cooking and baking as much as ever.

Left: burrito filling (homemade black bean ragout from Smitten Kitchen's cookbook, brown rice, corn, and spinach); right: roasted vegetables

lasagna roll-ups, which were kind of a fail, because the store didn't have butternut squash and I forgot to buy three other ingredients, so obviously it was destined to be a disaster, but Terry and I still ate it!

And lastly, some more fun photos from days with Declan:

Wonder at the children's museum

Glaring at me while we drive to pick up Marshall

More to come soon!