Friday, March 29, 2024

August Turns 8

Dear August,

Happy 8th birthday. My boy full of imagination, the goofiest and silliest, the mushiest of hearts.

Nothing makes you happier than a sunny day and somebody to throw a football to you. A happy-go-lucky pacifist who plays up with Oskar or down with Maren, the glue holding our sibling set together.

Your years have progressed from an all-consuming interest in Batman, to Luigi, to Harry Potter, and now football, always with costumes or uniforms to accompany. We call them your “eras”, and when you’re in one you’re in it big. Your football knowledge has gone through the roof, with you sputtering facts about trades and strategies and players, your mornings spent reviewing film or YouTube videos of the greatest interceptions or worst fumbles. You’ve rewatched the biggest NFL come back of all time more times than I can count, always sitting on the edge of your seat for the result.

This year in school has been an exercise of figuring out how you learn best. Your little body was not meant to sit in a seat for 8 hours a day and we’ve worked in different ways at home for you to be successful. All of the credit and accolades should really go to the kids like you who have to work for it where it doesn’t always come intuitively, and I’m so proud of you for all the time we’ve spent together to make it click.

You are a friend to everybody but still have your favorite handful, and it’s so evident that you found your people when you are with them. The silliest inside jokes and made-up games that nobody else understands: this is the happiness of which 8-year-olds are made.

A lover of sports, you’re still sometimes shy to play them, especially intimidated by anybody who may be older than you. Any frustration of losing is outweighed by you playing well. You’re starting flag football for the first time now, and your ear-to-ear smile after catching a Hail Mary pass in the endzone at practice might just well make your entire season. You finished your first basketball season and by the end, had come all the way out of your shell and had celebration dances after every bucket that had the crowd rolling. You’ve also come so far in soccer, and watching the transition from clusters of kids on a field to the strategy of positioning and passing is so fun. You’re a leader on your team and love putting the ball in the back of the net (and then doing the griddy).

Possibly my favorite new hobby of yours is playing guitar and the way that your dad, Oskar, and you now play music together in the basement. Your dad’s phone is full of videos of the three of you jamming out to a song together, which is something he dreamed about when he had two little boys under two.

This year took you to Disney World, Finland, and Scotland. You loved all of it, especially meeting Pluto and walking the street that inspired Diagon Alley in Harry Potter in Edinburgh. All of our non-vacation weeks are really just spent counting down to the next one that we can go on together.

You still love a good, long sleep and usually doze off to the most obscure songs playing on your Alexa. You’ve gotten into the Goosebumps books series, always gasping at every cheesy cliffhanger, begging us to read on. Before bed every night you have me do a “daily spin”, a pretend gameshow wheel that I trigger by bopping your finger. I get a different sound effect every night depending on where the imaginary wheel lands, and truthfully, I can’t go to sleep without knowing whether I got a bark or a whoosh of wind that night.

You’re so excited to celebrate this birthday with a football party in our basement. The curated plan is to watch all of the YouTube highlights you’ve queued up over the last months with pizza and popcorn in hand with your small group of very best friends. Your gifts from us are all things sports—a jersey you’ve been wishing for, trading cards and a back-of-the-door basketball hoop. Toys are slowly falling to the wayside, the sign of a boy who’s growing up.

August, it’s impossible not to love you. You’re such a ray of sunshine, a friend to everybody, and have the biggest heart with the world's best laugh. The littlest things make you the happiest, and I hope that never changes.

Happy 8th birthday to my forever baby boy. I love you to the moon.





Monday, March 11, 2024

Maren Turns 4

 Dear Maren,

You’re four years old. Always a hard milestone for me because the baby years are fully behind us, leaving us with a long legged, braid-wearing, brazen little girl.

Your days start with your brothers with the three of you occasionally creeping downstairs without us even knowing. These were the days we dreamt about when nobody in this house was sleeping a handful of years ago, and now, somehow, we’ve arrived. You would live your whole life in pajamas if you could and getting dressed is still notably one of your least favorite parts of the day. Fiercely opinionated about what to wear, your favorite t-shirts and leggings are on repeat with piles of alternate suggestions tossed to the side every morning. Your favorite things are coloring (with such exceptional precision it’s scary), playing board games (especially Guess Who, Zingo, and Dragon’s Breath), playing outside with your neighborhood friends, climbing the front yard tree, reading books, and snuggling up to watch a movie. You never want to go to school but your days go just fine, which has been a running trend from the very beginning. You can count pretty endlessly, can write all of your letters and your first and last name, know all of your letter sounds, know about 25 sight words, and are so interested in reading and doing math like you observe nightly at the homework table. There are no words for the amount of thrilled you were when your Pre-K class issued a red homework folder that looked exactly like your brothers’. You memorize books so that you can “read” them to us—a pretty impressive skill and one of my favorite tricks of yours.  You love the Little Miss book series and if you had to choose a topic to prepare a dissertation on, it would probably be about all of the characters within them.

We’re in the challenging part of toddlerhood where you’ve fully outgrown a nap but have to take one at school, leaving us with long nights with your copious amounts of energy into the 9 and 10 o’clock hours. I’m so ready for you to move into a different classroom in the fall where we can finally leave the very unneeded rest time behind and gain some semblance of a balanced bedtime routine. I asked you why you fall asleep at school when you’re not even tired, and you sighed and said, “When they put that [lullaby] music on it’s like a tranquilizer dart”.

Your favorite food has somehow become Grape Nuts cereal but you don’t know the name of it, and we will forever laugh when you ask for a bowl of crumbs before bedtime. All of your other adventurous eating has slowly fallen to the wayside this year, in true 4-year-old fashion, also frustratingly influenced by your brothers. We are, however, kind of mind blown at the fact that you wont eat a single piece of candy or fruit snack with the exception of some Reese’s peanut butter cups, who should probably sponsor you for that.

To say you’re ahead of your time doesn’t quite do it justice. Your vocabulary, your presence, it’s all bigger than life. Just recently, you marched back into your dentist’s office, leaving me alone in the waiting room while you made your own medical decisions thank-you-very-much.

Your brothers and we love and have a reasonable fear of you. You can hold your own, resulting in some heated sibling interactions. Your brothers go between giggling at your antics to being frustrated about often having to surrender to a 4-year-old’s demands. On the flip side, I still catch you and August imagining and pretending together. His patience is the biggest and he still has just enough little boy in him to play in imaginary worlds with you. Your lingo has developed into a 9 year old’s, with you telling me that your new Paw Patrol toys are “so sick” while you sing along to Blink 182.

This year’s adventures took you to Disney World, Finland and Scotland, and except for the jet lag, you’re an amazing little traveler. You’re ready to take on the world to the surprise of no one.

You started a Little Gym class this year, your first real activity for just you after living at your brothers’ practices and games. You still say you want to be a soccer player when you grow up and number one on your Christmas list this year was “Beadling gear”, the club team that Oskar plays for. You’re starting to practice on your very own team this spring and I can’t wait to watch you play.

When I think back on this year, I’ll always remember your big blue eyes, face smudged with dirt from playing outside, braided hair windblown, and your two fingers popped in your mouth whenever you’re tired. As much as I tell you that you need to stop sucking them, your dentist reported that your teeth were perfectly fine despite the sleepy habit, which you fully understood and reported back to me as an I-told-you-so. You have a lingering scar under your eye and a fresher one on your forehead that warranted stitches but was glued shut by your doctor dad to save us a trip to the ER.

I was so excited to have a little girl, but goodness, I’m even happier to raise one with a belly full of fire. When you were born, August called you “Miss Mouse” when he first met you. Now, every time you win a game or observe something that we haven’t, you remark to yourself, “What a clever little mouse.”

You’re now turning the same age as August was when you were born, a crazy full-circle kind of moment. One thing is for sure: you were meant to be the baby of this family—someone to keep us laughing, and also just a little bit scared, every single day.

Happy 4th birthday to our beautiful baby girl. You’ve made our family the happiest, and also kept us on our toes, for 4 whole years. We love you, we love you, we love you.





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