While I have flashes of retained images from very early on in my life, the first concrete memories I have started at age 4.
I remember playing games with my two older brothers. I remember meeting my best friend of the past 34 years, for the very first time, on the sidewalk in front of my childhood home after she moved into the house next door. I remember her older sister Tracy, teaching me how to ride her old, blue bicycle. I remember my parents redecorating my bedroom in a Sesame Street theme – with white curtains and comforter that were covered in letters and drawings of Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Bert and Ernie. (Elmo wasn’t around back then.)
I remember my Grandma Kisel teaching me how to draw houses at her kitchen table – the table that always had bowl of plastic fruit sitting in the middle of it. I remember being very confused by plastic fruit at age four. She used to watch me during the day while my parents worked and I would play in her gravel driveway alone. (It was the 70’s.) Mostly, we would sit on the couch together and watch the Price is Right. I remember standing in my Aunt Sandy’s bright, red, teen-decorated bedroom and shooting pretend arrows at her poster of Andy Gibb while she laughed and told me how silly I was.
I remember visiting my Grandma Harrish’s house in Cleveland. How my Grandmother would do my hair and take endless photos of me (sounds familiar). I would play Cherry Ho with a neighbor girl my age on her back patio. The girl’s name I can’t recall, but she had a dark, Dorothy Hamill haircut.
I remember splitting my eyebrow open after sleepwalking, waking up on the bathroom counter with blood on my pink pajamas while my poor, frantic mother tried to calm down my cries. I remember how my dad used to carry me up three flights of stairs in our split-level home to bed when I fell asleep in the family room. I always woke up on the way up, but would pretend I was asleep because I loved being in his arms.
I was lucky. I had a pretty wonderful childhood. We didn’t have a lot of money and our family had issues like any other, but my childhood was filled with love, laughter and many memorable moments.
And the memorable moments all started at aged four.
This is it. Your life, as you know it, is about to begin.
You’re not my toddling baby anymore, tearing through my house as you destroy everything in sight. You’re a girl - a brave, wonderful, funny, endearing, beautiful, stinky girl. You walk, run, climb and dance with thought and purpose. You speak in a way that always leaves me wondering where you could have possibly learned to use such words and phrases.
You are going to remember the places we take you, words we say to you, the moments we share. From this moment on, when we talk about “creating memories”, I don’t just mean for your dad and me. These are going to be your memories as well.
I feel like I need to up the ante on my parenting game a little.
Four is a special age. It’s that magical moment a person transforms from a toddler to a child. But in all honesty, the most magical thing about four, is that it’s no longer three.
Seriously…three. WHY did no one warn me about three?
The past year was a good one, but it was definitely our most challenging one so far. There were many moments we definitely questioned our parenting. Moments when I was pregnant that we wondered, out loud, how we could have possibly thought bringing another child into the world was a good idea when we couldn’t even handle one. There were many, many days at work when I dreaded coming home because I knew how difficult the evenings would be. There were constant issues with bedtime, dawdling, defiance, talking back, ignoring us, aggressive behavior – you know, normal three-year-old behavior that no one tells you about so when it happens, you feel like you’re the only one who has ever gone through it. It was rough.
But, that’s the charm of three. Because it was also silly, loving, beautiful and wild. Your personality really began to shine. We can now see, for the first time, who you really are – not as a cute baby or growing toddler – but as a person. And as we approach four, all the tyrannical three stuff is gradually fading with every day that clicks by. And you’re back.
You’re a sweet girl. When you talk about the things that you love, you always stretch out your arms as wide as they can go and end with, “I love the whoooooole word.” My little hippy.
You have all the typical favorites of a four-year-old girl: rainbows, sparkles, unicorns, princesses, tutus, shoes, and all things purple and pink. You won’t leave the house without putting on a skirt or dress. You change your clothes at least four times a day. I have given up picking out your outfit and have embraced your contrasting yet flavorful sense of style. You’re a total girl, but with the sense of humor of a college frat boy. Potty humor seems to make you laugh the loudest.
You love to laugh. And more than that, you love to make other people laugh. You goof around and act like a fool, all with the sole purpose of making one of us crack up with you. You’re a total clown and I love it.
You are a little shy initially in a new social setting, but as soon as you warm up, you are leading the charge. Your teachers tell us that the other kids flock to you and you are very helpful and kind to them all. They also say you are reliable to help out in the classroom and of course, to make people laugh.
You talk incessantly. You ask a ton of questions and if you are still confused by the answer, you dig deeper until you understand.
You say please and thank you. You give big hugs and sloppy kisses.
While it takes a while to calm you down for bed at night, you’ve been doing better. And once you fall asleep, you are a great sleeper. But, you are not a morning person. We have to drag you out of bed every morning. You are worse than a teenaged boy. It makes our morning routine a little challenging, but I can’t really blame you. The only person who hates getting up in the morning more than you is me.
You thrive off of activity. You’re constantly running, skipping, jumping and tumbling. You like to go sledding and ride your scooter or balance bike, which you were getting better at before all this dreaded snow.
And you dance. Forever, you dance.
You’re really into ballet but you will shake it to any style. You put on a dance show for us almost every night. It’s amazing to me that someone who has never seen an episode of Seinfeld, could dance so much like Elaine Benes.
You have an active imagination. You constantly play pretend with your dolls and stuffed animals. You make up these long, elaborate stories and when we ask you to explain them deeper, you always have to clarify, “No Mommy and Daddy, I’m just playing pretend.”
You love to play Candyland and tell knock-knock jokes. You love to draw pictures and have gotten really good at drawing people. You have mastered writing your first name and can recognize almost all of the letters and numbers. Your favorite song is “Roar” by Katy Perry, but you make me sing, “I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder every night 3-4 times before bed. Your favorite movie is Frozen and you would watch Doc McStuffins, Tinkerbell and Sofia the First all day long if we let you.
You love macaroni and cheese, pasta, yogurt, apples, red peppers, baby carrots and Dum Dums – not necessarily together. You love water and you think it’s funny to say you drink beer, because it makes us laugh.
More than anything, you love Ruby. You will do anything to make her smile. And when she does, you laugh as loud as you can. It fills my heart to see you enjoying bringing joy to your baby sister. The way you two interact with one another, we already know you will be conspiring against us in no time.
You’ve endured so many changes this year – getting rid of your pacifier, starting your Pre-K classes, getting a baby sister – I’m actually surprised we didn’t have a harder time. But, as always, you surprise us with how easily you adjust to it all. You are strong, kind, funny and a joy. Even when you’re not a joy – you are.
Happy birthday Quinn. You fill our lives with so much love and you make us proud every day.
Quinn’s fourth birthday has come and gone and this year, her party was a smashing success.
This is the first year we have had a birthday party outside of the home. We normally just invite a few friends over with kids and have cake and food at the house. It’s always been a lot of fun, and honestly, I prefer to have it there. I’m not into huge birthday parties at obnoxious venues that cost a fortune. It’s annoying to me that that’s what birthday parties have come to now.
But, after last year, when our tiny rowhome was taken over by rambunctious three-year-olds with nowhere to run (we don’t have a a yard and the weather wasn’t good enough to go outside anyway), we knew we would have to find somewhere indoors and away from home if we wanted to have a party. Poor Quinn and her winter birthday.
Lucky for us, there is Smith Playhouse. Smith is a wonderful, free playground and playhouse in Fairmount park that we frequent a lot in the summer. Their playground is really one of the best I have ever seen. It’s closed in the winter, but their giant play house stays open all year. And while most birthday parties are held on one of the two outdoor porches overlooking the playground, they do have one small party room they rent out for a small fee.
So, that’s what we did. We had the room for food and the kids had the run of the playhouse, which was also open to the public. Of course, not many people come to Smith in the winter, so it wasn’t very busy.
I had a slight moment of panic in the am, when I realized how small the room was and how many people were actually going to show up (almost 50!) But, it was perfect. We had them eat cake about halfway through and just let them go wild in the playroom. It was great. All of Quinn’s favorite buddies showed up and she was so excited on the way there. She could barely contain herself. She really felt so special all day, thanks to her wonderful friends and family who came to celebrate with us.
One day, when we move into a bigger house, we will definitely go back to fun house parties. The kids can go crazy in a family room or finished basement, while the parents eat food, have a cocktail and catch up on different level of the house. But, for now, our first venture into an off-site birthday party was a success. The birthday girl had a smile on her face the entire day. Of course, that’s the most important thing.
Happy fourth birthday, my first baby.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
…is the last day, for at least 2.5 years, that I will have a three-year-old living in my house.
Still the peanuttiest of peanuts. #sixmonthwellvisit #teenygirl #headdidntgetthememo
Happy half-birthday, Ruby. It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole six months since you came into this lifetime of yours. I thought I knew with Quinn what they meant when they told me “they grow up so fast”. But, that’s nothing compared to life with two kids.
Other than a few sleeping issues, it’s been a wonderful 6 months. And this month has been especially fun. You have been doing so much lately it’s no wonder it all seems to be a blur.
You started school two days a week, which you seem to love. The teachers love you too since all you do is smile at them all day. They compare you to your big sister a lot, who also took to daycare very easily, and I’m glad you’re adjusting so well. One of the best things about school is that it totally wears you out. You are so exhausted by the end of the day, that you conk out and sleep almost all night. Woo-hoo, sleep!
Of course, in the two weeks you’ve been there, you’ve gotten a non-stop runny nose and a stomach bug – which means we all have a stomach bug. It’s no fun to have to deal with the petri dish that is the infant room. But, we’ll survive. Just don’t come home with lice.
You still get to spend 2-3 days a week with your Grandma and Grandpa. They love it and so do you. We are so lucky to have them here with us now. And I’m so happy you will have the chance to spend so much quality time with them as you grow up.
You started eating rice cereal this month. We waited a little longer than we did with your sister because you’re still learning to sit up and always tend to spit medications out of your mouth. And honestly, you really didn’t seem that interested. But so far, you seem ok with rice cereal. You still wear most of it, but we’ll work on it.
And then there is your sleep. I haven’t wanted to mention it in fear of jinxing it. But for now, we seem to have solved the sleep issues by going back to full-on, super-tight, newborn swaddling. And with the exception of a few random fussy nights, you are only waking up 1-2 times a night now – down from once every hour.
Of course, sleep habits are so random. Every night, there is an element of “will tonight be the night she starts waking up again every hour?” We’ve had a couple since we started swaddling you that scared us, but luckily, you went back to a decent routine. You still haven’t slept through the night (not once your entire life, come ON kid!), but at least you have a definite bedtime/wake-up time routine and are giving us more than 45 minute stretches of sleep. So, thank you.
And I guess you will have to stay swaddled until middle school.
Otherwise, you have all the typical quirks of a 6 month old. You love to be held and hate being left alone. You are curious about everything and reach for every object you find in hopes of exploring it more with your mouth. You chatter a lot more and have recently started clearing your throat and laughing if we do it back to you. It’s like our own little way of communicating.
You are sitting up assisted but still tumble over a lot. You don’t mind tummy-time anymore. Your legs are getting stronger and you can now stand up pretty well if I hold on to you.
You still love your bouncy seat and are falling in love with the exersaucer. The swing you once loved so much is now simply a giant bucket that holds all of your toys in the corner of our dining room. We can probably take that down to the basement.
But, who has time?
And you love your sister. Like, LOVE her so much. It’s the best thing in the world to see the two of you together. Quinn is so good to you and just wants to hold you, kiss you and play with you all the time. And you are just in awe of her. She can do no wrong in your eyes. Any time I am feeling sorry for myself about how hard our life is now and how busy we are and blah, blah…I see you both and realize how lucky I am. And it shuts all the negative stuff down.
I do feel like we’ve turned a bit of a corner this month – with you turning 6 months and Quinn turning 4, I am finally seeing a glimpse through the newborn/tyrannical three’s fog and the view is pretty great. Every month with you in our lives gets better and better. Thank you for making our family complete.
We love you, RJ. Happy 6 months, Bubs.
I know I’m gonna regret this 5:15 nap later on. But right now, it’s so good.
Just another reason we love our block. This is what we find on our stoop when we tell our neighbors we can’t go on a bar crawl with them because we have kids. Ha. Love you Mike and Scott. @jsobarr #neighborsandfriends #mtairy #philly