Friday, March 29, 2019

A Letter to August on his 3rd Birthday

Dear August,

You’re three whole years today. The minute I first saw you is forever etched into my brain, a still frame in my mind, and I swear I still see that same baby face in you every time I hold you or rock you, even though you hysterically giggle and tell me, “Mama, I’m a BIG BOY, not a baby” whenever I tell you that you’re my baby, always. 

You’re funny, smart, loving, and beyond adorable. You have the blondest hair (still) that’s thick and unruly, and the prettiest greenish-blueish eyes that remind me of the ocean. You’re slowly leaning out, turning into a boy, but when you smile, you say, “Cheeks!” instead of “Cheese!”, which is the best thing ever since your chubby cheeks are still very much there. You have a little gap in your two bottom teeth that I find so impossibly sweet, and your smiles are even better because of it. You’re your big brother’s shadow and the two of you are the best of friends (or, of course, the worst of enemies) and constantly fight and make up, even though you tell him, “I’m never playing with you for the rest of my life” just about every hour. Some of my happiest days have been watching you two run and chase and wrestle each other, pretending and imagining and growing together. 

You’re a performer and there’s nothing that you love more than to make those people closest to you laugh. You’re larger than life in personality AND in size (really, in the 90th percentiles for both height and weight), but at the same time, you’re my gentle giant. You’re really shy around new people, and cling or hide behind mama for a LONG time until you get your bearings. Strangers aren’t even allowed to look at you without you hiding away, which is hard to believe knowing how huge your personality really is. You’re very much a mama’s boy, my littlest love, and remind me of a fawn, running out just far enough into the world to explore and adventure, but then quickly turning back and running to hide in my legs. 

You shine in school and report back everything you do. You’re so good at independent play—slipping away, but still staying where we can see you—to lay on the ground to play superheroes, making them talk to each other to save the day. Your imagined-up dialogues are the very best, and I can’t jot them down fast enough in an attempt to try to remember them forever. Batman is still your idol and most of your play is revolved around him through figurines or LEGOs. The Batman theme is on repeat for your birthday again this year, and no other suggestions were even entertained by you. Your birthday wish is for LEGO mini-figures, and lots of them, to rip apart and reassemble, over and over again. This is one of your very favorite things, so much so that Oskar named your little table the “breaking table” because that’s where you pull all of your LEGOs apart. You also love Imaginext houses, Play-Doh, foam swords, building towers, playing catch, or riding your tricycle. Such classic little boy things. 

You’re still a good eater and love nothing more than olives and pickles, which makes us laugh every time. Other favorites are meatballs, muffins, string cheese, and apples, not peeled and served whole. You’ll still put down a plate of broccoli, but we’ll see if that continues this year. 

We recently moved you into a big boy bed and held our breath, but it was a total non-event, as smooth as can be. You haven’t quite figured out that you can leave your bed on your own and sit up and call for us when you wake up. You’re still on an 8:30pm-6am schedule, with a 1.5-2ish hour nap in the afternoons. You sleep with a puppy dog stuffed animal that wears a Batman costume that you named “Bat Pup”, and I dare you to find me something cuter than how hard you cuddle him when you’re asleep.

One of my favorite things about you is how easily and how hard you laugh. It’s so contagious and I can’t get enough. I think your personality is so magnetic because of this, and I hope you never lose it. You also love so hard and want to be close to us, always hugging, climbing into a lap, hand holding, or telling us, “I love my whooooooooole family.” There’s nothing better in this world than that.

You’ve been to Finland 3 times and to Denmark once in your little life, and we’re heading to Finland and the Netherlands again in a few months. It’s not always easy, but you’re undoubtedly the cutest little traveler. You’re a story teller, and your imagination comes up with the craziest things that you make sound so convincingly real—one of my favorite parts about this age. You talk a mile a minute, with words that are bigger and far beyond your years, telling me things like, “Did you know trees make air?”, or “Actually, I love you to Mars AND to Pluto.” 

August, you’re an absolute joy, a bright light, the most loving little boy. Laughing with you is the best kind of laughing there is, and nothing has made me happier than to be your mama. Happy, happy 3rd birthday. May all your Batman wishes come true.


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How (and when!) To Transition to a Toddler Bed

Hi all! I’ve recently been asked about August’s transition to a big boy bed, so sharing exactly how we made it happen seamlessly this time around! But first, a backstory on what not to do.

Oskar had just turned 2 when we decided to move him to a big boy bed in order to use his crib for his new baby brother. He still wasn’t going to bed on his own since we read and rocked him to sleep, was waking frequently through the night, and was also just potty trained and waking extremely early to use the bathroom, and then never going back to bed. (Cue all the sirens sounding). We went ahead with it anyway. 

Oskar having free reign of his room and the house (before we fixed that) was absolutely bananas. We’d rock him to sleep, put him in his bed, only to have him wake up, turn his lights on, and pull out his toys 15 minutes later. We’d go back in and sit with him and rock him, move him to his bed, only to repeat the cycle again. Something had to give, and it was sleep training. You know what’s NOT fun? Sleep training a toddler in a big kid bed. We put child locks on his doors and covers over his light switch. We stuck to (and always had, really) a very strict bedtime with the same routine each night. Still, the result was a 2 year old screaming for hours on end, pounding on a door, and finally collapsing from exhaustion on the floor or in his chair. We’d check on him every 15 minutes, assure him, tuck him back in, but learning to fall asleep independently is a skill that requires practice, and that’s something we should have started working on well before 2. It took months and months before we got to a point of reading to him, tucking him into his bed, saying our “I love yous”, and turning out the lights as we walked out the door. We swore we’d do it differently the next time around, and here’s how we made that happen.

Step 1:

We started sleep training August at 1 year old. What this meant for us was reading and rocking, but then putting him into his crib totally awake. We stuck to the same bedtime, same songs, same familiar routine. When he cried, we’d let him do so for 5 minutes, then 10, then 15. If the crying continued, we’d stick to the 15 minute interval of going into his room to pat his back and to soothe, but not hold him. By 18 months he wasn’t crying at all, and rolled over and went to sleep peacefully after we put him in his crib. Really, I don’t think there’s anything more satisfying than that as a mama. This is an absolutely critical tier to have mastered before you think about any kind of a transition.

Step 2:

Sleep training is certainly the first tier, but so is maturity. Along with this comes being able to communicate bigger thoughts and feelings. Nearly 3 year old August can tell us when he’s cold, or wants a certain stuffed animal, or wants us to leave his door a little bit cracked. All things that would probably cause emotions to bubble over in a 2 year old.  We can also tell him things like, “I can’t wait to come get you in the morning!” or, “You’re such a BIG boy in your bed!”, which he totally eats up and understands. Communicating feelings and needs is an important step for toddler bed readiness.

Step 3:

The last and final step is all about THEM, and if they’re ready and excited for a new bed. Truly, there is no reason to force this, and if your kiddo loves their crib, then let them have a crib. I assure you, nobody is going to college with their baby bed packed up, so no need to rush if your child is not ready. We talked about this for a few weeks leading up to when we thought we’d transition him, and hyped up the change and how exciting it was for him. We also asked August how he felt about it many, many times, and though he told us, “I want my crib” at first, a few days later he changed his mind on his own. When the day came, he was just so dang proud of himself and couldn’t wait to show us how grown up he was.

So, there you have it. The groundwork in 3 (not always easy) steps, but the underlying factor is TIME. I wish we would have waited with our first so we would have hit the sweet spot like we did now. August goes into his big boy bed after we read and sing, grabs his favorite stuffed animal, and goes to sleep with no issues, no fuss. He’s never gotten out of his bed and he sleeps through the night and calls for us when he wakes up. It’s been seamless and easy, and I owe it to the work we did on the front end. 
Linking some of our favorite big kid bed transition stuff, here, that made the process even easier. Let me know if you agree with my tips, and if you have any of your own to add, in the comments below!

Door Knob Covers                      

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