I just went back and read the last McKay state of the union post from last January and I can’t believe how much you have all grown up since then. (Especially you, Rory, since you were still in my belly!)
Carter, you get taller and smarter every day. You are such a string bean, tall and skinny, and you have SO much energy! Your latest move is doing the funny chicken dance you learned from Walker at school, and you do it to make Rory laugh and sometimes when you don’t feel like answering our questions (or you just stick your tongue out at us…you can be delightful!).
VPK has been so good for you this year. I was so nervous when we found out that you were in a class with none of the kids from your class last year, and I was so afraid you would have a hard time. But instead you’ve just flourished even more. Mrs. Hibbens and Mrs. Karalis have been great with you, helping you keep your emotions in check and even bringing you special books to read. Which, speaking of books, WOW, you just keep amazing me! We started reading the Magic Treehouse chapter books together, and you can officially read them out loud to me all on your own. Today we were looking at bamboo plants and you read “Bambusa multiplex” on the sign and astonished the lady there. And your love for learning just keeps on growing every day. Your favorite toy is K’nex. You are AMAZING at building things. They’re meant for kids 8+ but you can follow the directions better than I can and build these amazing contraptions all on your own. And you are starting to get creative and design your own creations, too.
My biggest stress right now is figuring out where you will go to kindergarten, and I hope that when I reread this post later, the whole crazy process will have lead us to exactly where you need to be. As of now you are enrolled at Athenian Academy, which will have a brand new campus but focuses on foreign language instead of your beloved math and science. We have been waitlisted everywhere else, though we are hoping you will still end up with a spot at the Pinellas Academy of Math and Science (we are #9). The last “lottery” for our top choice for you, Pinellas Primary Academy, will happen in a few weeks, fingers crossed. For the record, I toured and applied at: Curtis Fundamental, Tarpon Springs Fundamental, Kings Highway Magnet for Digital Learning, Pinellas Primary Academy, Discovery Academy of Science, Athenian Academy, Pinellas Academy of Math and Science AND McMullen Booth Elementary where you are zoned. I know you will be a shining star wherever you end up, but we want to give you the best possible environment to help you shine your brightest. Sending your baby off to kindergarten is a very hard thing to do.
Update: We ended up #88 on the PPA wait list, but yesterday I got a call from PAMS that you got in! So we are very excited to finally know where you will be attending school this fall. We are nervous but cautiously optimistic that it will be a great fit for you. And your friend Tarik is also slated to go there with you.
After sleeping in your “nest” on the floor in our room since your 4th birthday, we finally got you boys a new bunk bed for your room. You’ve been sleeping there for a week now, and while you are certainly whining and complaining about it, you have also been able to fall asleep there every night when I come sit with you for a few minutes. My rule is that you have to fall asleep there, and if you wake up in the middle of the night, you can come back to your nest in our room, which of course you have ended up in all but one night. But it’s ok. We are trying to make you as comfortable as possible while still encouraging you to sleep on your own before your 18th birthday. 🙂 I know someday you will WANT to sleep far, far away from us and we will miss these days like crazy.
And my sweet Collin: you are the best and worst of both worlds, sometimes at the same time. When you are happy, you are sunshine and light, kittens and puppy dogs, ice cream and swimming pools on a hot summer day. Giving me kisses and telling me I am the best mom in the world. And then something ticks you off and you dig in your heels, red-faced, cryyyying and just mad. Today it was not getting a sticker at the Target checkout, other days it’s not wanting to buckle your own car seat, not giving you a snack, making you turn off the iPad or TV, giving you the wrong kind of underwear (the Baymax, or “Paymax” ones are your favorite). It’s a typical toddler behavior, and I think sometimes it’s a middle child thing, wanting to make yourself recognized when you’re not the big kid, not the baby. I try to have patience with you and not yell back (sometimes I am better at this than other times) and just stay neutral until it passes, because it always does. And then out of nowhere, you’re done being cranky Collin and back to giggling, playing and being delightful.
Watching you learn is so much fun! You know your letters and sounds (though sometimes you mix up b and d), are getting good at counting things, and you’ve even started sounding out words. You still don’t have much of an attention span when it comes to academic pursuits, but I try to sneak things in when you are being cooperative, and sometimes you will even initiate it. Carter loves to teach you things, and sometimes you humor him and cooperate. I love listening to you talk now, and you certainly talk a lot! You still don’t say everything correctly (my is still mine, for example, like “wash mine hands” and mosquitoes are still “spaghitoes”), but the cute toddler words are verging on extinction (RIP “yusmic”). You will be starting preschool at Robin’s Nest this fall, just two mornings a week like Carter did at your age, but I know it is a slippery slope: two mornings becomes five, then five mornings becomes five whole days in the blink of an eye. I am excited for you to discover a sense of independence and have a life apart from me, but I am also so sad for that to happen. Sending your baby off to preschool is a very hard thing to do.
You are straddling little boy and big boy on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. Some days you get yourself dressed without me even asking, you want to do everything yourself, you’re helpful and independent and so big! And other days you just want your mama and I am reminded that you are still my baby. Speaking of getting dressed, it is a struggle. You have a few t-shirts you adore: Chase from Paw Patrol, Spiderman, and Lightning McQueen among them…pretty much all characters and the preppy polo shirt hand-me-downs from Carter languish in the back of your shirt drawer. When you get yourself dressed it is usually a combination of plaid and stripes and you look pretty ridiculous, but also adorable so I don’t usually make you change.
And oh, the naughtiness! You just poured water from a bottle into the bottom of your MegaBlock and were on your way to dump it out in the bathroom sink with a very guilty look on your face. You have also recently played with the cough drops in my bedside table, played with Dada’s computer, played with my computer and who knows what else I haven’t even caught. You fully realize you are doing something wrong, but you do it anyway, even if you know it’s going to earn you a spanking. You are Trouble personified.
You love to scratch my arm as you fall asleep. Not sure where that fits in to this post, but it’s something I want to be sure to remember.
And little baby Rory. You are such a sweet baby and becoming more and more of a real person every day. You are my (amazing) third child, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I started this post when you were 9 months old, wrote two sentences about you and then didn’t get back to it until you are 10.5 months old! Sorry, baby girl!
You are so mobile now, crawling around the whole house with your funny “sit crawl.” You leave one leg in the sitting position and put the other one up like a frog. When you get going really quickly, both of your arms go forward at once so you are literally hopping around the house. I can’t put you in dresses right now because they get tangled up on your sitting knee and you get mad. You are also pulling up on everything, starting to cruise around, and even briefly standing now and then. It is your goal in life to get out into the office to see Dada when he is working. Just a few days ago, the one step down into the office would stop you, and someone would rush over to get you so you didn’t do a faceplant into the office, but now you just crawl right down it with no problem. When Dada is out there, we have to block the entry with ottomans. You do a lot of “milling around” as we call it. Because this house is more open than our last one, we can’t really trap you in anywhere like I did with the boys, so you are able to crawl from the living room into the dining room and kitchen, or head down the hall to the boys’ room. You seem to enjoy this freedom, and I try very hard to make sure that we keep the floor safe for you. It’s fun to compare you to your brothers, because they were so different in how they became mobile. Collin did everything early, crawled on his knees and was full-on walking before his first birthday. Carter was on a more typical schedule, had a funny crawl (though different from your funny crawl, his was one knee down, one foot up) and wasn’t full-on walking until after his first birthday. I think since you are more similar to Carter in so many ways that we still have a couple of months before you are running around on your own. Take your time, baby girl!
You have a smile that can light up a room. You certainly make strangers work for it, and often give them a blank stare when they try to elicit a grin. But oh, your family can turn that smile on. Carter and Collin love to dance around, make funny sounds and do everything possible to make you giggle and grin. Your sweet little laugh can instantly neutralize my bad moods…I think it might be impossible to hear it and NOT smile back. You LOVE your family so much. When the boys were little, Dada was commuting back and forth from Clearwater to Wesley Chapel, so he didn’t get to see them as much as he has seen you. As such you have repaid him with adoration. It is so sweet to watch your “Daddy’s little girl” relationship developing. It has also been nice over the past two months for you to be able to stay home with him in short doses so I can run errands and go to meetings on my own. You and your brothers have all been very clingy babies and really needed me (or more accurately, my boobs) to console you when you were upset, so while I am so sad to leave your tiny baby days behind us, the independence is one of the benefits of watching you get bigger.
You are such a great eater! I started giving you food so much earlier than I did with the boys and you have done so well with it. Puffs, melts and Cheerios were no problem, then we progressed to little pieces of fruits, veggies and your favorite, MEAT. You are our carnivore and always eat your meat first. You love the pork from Chipotle, steak and chicken, and a recent favorite is grapes. Oh, and you got your first cookie at Publix last week. I gave you little pieces of it and ate most of it myself, but as you sat in the car cart you would turn your little head and look back at me like “keep it coming, mama!!” You were allergic to dairy as a tiny baby (I cut milk, butter, yogurt and ice cream out of MY diet or it affected you) but I think it is finally almost if not totally gone now. I have given you some little pieces of cheese and have stopped using the dairy-free, soy-free butter on everything I cook. It might even be time to let you try some yogurt. The boys grew out of it and have no problems now, so I’m hoping and assuming you will be the same way.
You have a very pleasant disposition: almost always mellow and happy and interested in what’s going on around you. Everyone always remarks on what a good baby you are, and my standard comeback is “she has no choice, she’s the third child!” Which is so true. You have two big brothers who stay very busy and you love coming along for the ride with us. Well, not literally since you still don’t love the car. You hated your carseat from 2 months to around 8 months and would SCREAM hysterically every time we put you in it, especially on our road trip to South Carolina when you were 5 months old, ugh. You have been in your big girl carseat since that trip, hoping it would make you scream less, but really, time seems to be the only thing that stopped the crying. Somewhere along the road you stopped crying EVERY time and then one day it became occasional instead of often. So you still don’t like it, but you tolerate it. When you are not loving it, Carter can usually make faces at you to cheer you up, or I can sing your “I love Rory” song that Carter wrote for you when you were tiny. (to the tune of Frere Jaques: I love Rory, I love Rory, yes I do, yes it’s true! She’s the sweetest baby, she’s the sweetest baby, I love you, I love you. We love Rory, we love Rory, Rory Roo, Rory Roo. So glad you chose our family, so glad you chose our family, we love you, we love you.)
You are so fun to dress, no surprise there. Girl clothes are so much fun! I’ve barely bought you anything since we got so many hand me downs from friends, but your drawers are stuffed to the gills with adorable dresses, rompers, onesies and leggings, and there are bags and bags of bigger sizes waiting for you to grow into them.
You love to scrub! If you find a piece of paper, a sock, or anything in between on the floor, you start scrubbing the floor like Cinderella. And you clap with one hand holding still and the other one doing the work. You’ve just started getting up on your knees and clapping. You are just so adorable. You make me want to have a million more babies because the thought of you NOT being a baby anymore makes me tear up instantly. And yet it’s coming very soon! Watching your baby turn into a little girl is a very hard thing to do.
I will finish this up with a slice of our crazy life: the R.E. Olds Park story. We met our friends Rachel and Evie at the park a couple of weeks ago to play on Tuesday afternoon. This was after a week of the “plague” in our house where Carter had thrown up Friday morning and missed his school Easter party, Collin threw up Sunday, Collin and Rory both had high fevers, then just when we thought we were done, Collin had a puke fest on Saturday night, the night before Easter. So after more than a week of Spring Break quarantine, it was 3 days later with no more symptoms, and I definitely thought we were over it. The boys were both pretty whiny the whole time we were there. Collin finished playing early and just wanted to sit with me, which is pretty unusual, but it was hot and I thought he was just tired. As we were getting ready to leave because a big thunder cloud was moving in, he said, “I have to go potty!” which in Collin-at-three-and-a-half language means “get me to the potty NOW or I’m going to have an accident!” So we quickly said our goodbyes to Rachel and Evie, grabbed Carter and Rory and headed off toward the bathroom which of course was a bit of a walk from the playground. As we were walking down the sidewalk, ominous black clouds rolling toward us, out of nowhere Collin starts puking. A lot. All over the sidewalk and his shoes. A grandmother and boy were walking toward us when it happened and she said, “well, at least he wasn’t in the car!” as they passed by. So after consoling him and making sure he was done puking, we walk into the bathroom, which is one of those gross park bathrooms with no air conditioning and everything is pretty much constantly dirty. We look in one stall and the toilet has poop in it. We look in the next and it has toilet paper in it, but that is less offensive than poop so that’s the one I choose. While I thought he just had to pee, he says, “I have to go poo poo!” as he pulls down his pants and sits on the (gross) potty. Meanwhile Carter is running around like a loony toon. There is a “push to open” button next to the door, so he is running around the half-wall, pushing it, then running back, repeat. I am holding Rory on my hip and my huge diaper bag/purse on my other shoulder, standing outside the stall, trying to settle Carter down. Collin proceeds to take the world’s biggest poop (seriously, huge) and he takes forever to finish up. In my mind I’m seeing those storm clouds rolling in and picturing us having to run back across the field to our car in the pouring rain, so I’m repeatedly asking “are you done yet?” “No.” “Are you done yet?” “No.” “I think you’re done now.” “No.” until I practically dragged him off the potty, wiped his butt, yes, while holding a (thankfully very well behaved through all of this) baby and my big diaper bag, which involves crouching down and trying very hard not to fall on the gross bathroom floor, then just as perilously standing back up again. And Collin is having trouble pulling his undies and pants back up because he is hot and sweaty, so I have to crouch down again and try to ull then up with one hand while trying not to drop Rory. Meanwhile Carter is still running around touching things in the (gross) bathroom. Collin is terrified of public toilet flushes, so after he’s out of the stall, I flush the toilet which immediately starts to back up, toilet paper and huge Collin poop swirling around threatening to flood the (gross) floor, and I back up and will it to stay in the toilet, which it thankfully does. “Let’s wash hands” I say and as we run the sink water, I realize there is no soap. A little girl was walking out of the handicapped stall at this point and she mentioned there was soap in there (bless her), so we all crowded into the handicapped stall to wash hands, then finally headed out of the bathroom to see the black clouds even closer. Now let’s go back to before this whole bathroom/puking incident. Collin had forgotten his sippy cup in the car, and of course he was thirsty so we had already walked to the bathroom to get a drink from the (gross) water fountain outside the bathroom once, then walked back again to fill up my water cup that Collin and Rory were both drinking from (and of course now I’m thinking “great! Collin just puked and Rory and I both shared a cup with him!”) and Carter’s empty sippy cup, which he proceeded to whine about because the water was “yucky” and he didn’t ask me to fill up his cup. So now back to present, I pulled out Carter’s sippy cup full of “yucky” water to try and wash some of the puke off of the sidewalk, which of course accomplished nothing (thankfully the rain was about to do it for real) but then Carter starts whiiiiining that I had dumped out his water (that he had previously told me he didn’t want) on the way across the field back to our car. As you can imagine I was pretty done at this point so I crouched down, grabbed him by the cheeks a bit too hard, looked him straight in the eyes and said very sternly but trying not to yell like a crazy woman, “Carter, your brother just threw up and I am trying to get us back into the car before it starts pouring down rain. You can wait until we get home to have a drink.” which immediately starts him crying hysterically. I drag the whole motley crew back to our (so dirty it’s almost funny) Acadia and get Rory in her carseat while the boys buckle in, Carter still crying and whining about how thiiiirrrrrsty he is. I hand Collin a Publix bag and tell him if he has to throw up again, to please try really hard to throw up IN the bag. Then I get myself in the car and start driving as the first raindrops hit the windshield.
Thankfully these instances are few and far between, and life with three kids runs pretty darn smoothly, but I want to remember the days when everything can and does go wrong so I can laugh at them now that I am not in the moment.
I love you all so, so, so much. More than you will ever understand until you have kids of your own. I will take a million bad days for the honor of hearing your sweet laughter, getting hugs and kisses and just being here to witness your beautiful lives.
P.S. One more thing worth recording. Whenever you boys hurt yourself, I always give you a kiss to make it feel better. At some point recently one of you hurt your foot and I said, “I’m not kissing your stinky foot” but I did it anyway, making a funny face, and you both thought it was so funny that whoever was hurt immediately stopped crying and started laughing. So this became a “thing.” Any time there was a hurt foot, the tears would start, then instantly stop as you would walk toward me with a big smile, “kiss my stinky foot!” and I would protest, then kiss it with a funny face while you both laugggghhhhed. This also applies to “kiss my stinky butt.” Ah, being a boy mom. I will kiss your stinky feet forever if it will make you smile and laugh. Especially while they are not actually stinky. xoxo