August 15, 2011

It's Been Too Long

This summer has been the best and busiest summer I've had since I became a stay-at-home mom.  I think it's been a combination of my children's ages and the fact that I, for the first time ever, hired a sitter for two mornings a week to keep Ben while I spent those morning doing anything and everything with the big girls.  I remember when Mary Ellen was a baby and needed that morning nap, the mornings were so long trying to entertain Hattie while her sister slept.  I wasn't looking forward to that when summer was nearing, and I knew the girls would be home all day, every day.  Our budget allowed for me to either put Hattie in a summer camp of some kind 2 days a week or for me to hire someone for Ben while I took the girls out on "adventures."  Thanks to a friend who gave me some great recommendations for sitters, I'm glad I chose the latter and got to enjoy the fun things of summer with my girls while Ben napped comfortably at home and was well cared for by his baby-sitter, who happens to be a very sweet, beautiful college girl, so I'm sure he didn't mind :).

And now we are nearing the end of summer, and it's true that I am sad to see it go.  In just six short days, we will be back to having to be somewhere at certain times and carpool lines and packing lunches.  I am looking forward to having some time alone with Ben again while Hattie goes off to kindergarten and Mary Ellen goes to preschool 3 mornings a week, but it will be an adjustment for all of us.

As we close on Summer 2011, here is an update on my kiddos and what they've been up to:
Hattie turned 5 on July 4th.  She is ready for kindergarten and is so excited!  We have "meet the teacher" this Friday, and she is ready.  I am nervous.  Most of her summer at home has been spent playing barbies and littlest pet shop with her sister.  They have played so well together all summer.  They fight, yes, of course, but Mary Ellen is finally at an age where they are good playing partners, and she's pretty easy-going about allowing Hattie to boss her around while they play.  That's their dynamic.
 Hattie's favorite place to be is at the YMCA pool.  She worked really hard all summer perfecting her swimming skills.  While she's not a strong swimmer yet, she can definitely swim.  And I'm so proud of her for just kind of figuring it out herself while watching and playing with other kids at the pool.  We did no swim lessons this year.

Hattie has become a fairly good writer and reader.  Sean or I can tell her to write a word, something easy that she can sound out, like cat or dog, and she can sound it out and write it, and it's legible!  I'm so proud of her.  She's always just wanted to learn and do well and please.  I think she's going to be a shining star in kindergarten!
Mary Ellen just turned 3 this past weekend.  At 3, my middle child is in love with all things girly and prissy.  She loves her barbies, dress up clothes, jewelry, purses, and makeup.  Just this past Sunday, she was enjoying her new birthday presents while Sean was watching her and her brother.  Hattie and I went school shopping.  One of her presents from her grandparents was makeup.  Sean went in the bathroom to shave, and when he came back to the playroom he found this:
Poor Ben!  The things he will be subjected to because he has two older sisters are endless.

Mary Ellen has always played well by herself.  I guess it's a second/middle child thing because I've heard other moms say this about their second child.  She is just more independent and has no reservations about doing what she wants, when the thought comes to her mind, like putting makeup all over her brother.
If you've been around Mary Ellen at all this summer, you have probably witnessed her obsession with swimsuits and braids.  Not a day goes by that she doesn't request to put her swimsuit on and demand that I braid her hair.  She is very conscious of being dressed to impress at all times and wants to get out of her pjs almost as soon as her feet hit the floor in the morning.

Mary Ellen has a very tender side to her, too, though.  She still cries when we leave her in nursery on Sundays, probably because we aren't consistent with it, but she goes often enough that she knows the women there.  I know the first day of school will be hard for her.  She will definitely shed tears.  She is very close to me, and does not like when I leave the house without her.  And when I return, she always runs up to me saying, "Mama's home!!!!" like it's the best thing ever :).
Ben, or my Benny-boo, as I so affectionately call him, has grown and grown and grown.  The secret is out: this boy loves to eat!  It took him a while to warm up to solids, but now, he devours most things I give him.  I am finally bumping him up to taking solids 3 times a day.  With that, he eats about 22 ounces of formula.  He is much bigger than the girls were at this age, take it from me and my aching back!  At 9 months, he is still not crawling, but that is due entirely to the fact that he learned to go from his tummy to sitting.  So anytime I put him on his tummy, he almost immediately sits up.  And his sisters have been too kind with giving him something to play with when all of his toys are out of reach.
I love having a son and I love the age he is right now.  I really think 9 months is the best baby age.  He has finally dropped that 3rd nap and is taking two solid naps a day.  He is teething his top two front teeth, which stinks, but he's also processing and learning so much.  His babbles and squeals are to die for.  And the way he says "mama" when he sees me, melts me.

I guess the biggest difference between him and his sisters at this stage in the game is how mad he can get.  If I take something away from him he protests much louder and with much more force than his sisters ever did.  The girls have always backed off fairly easily, but he challenges me more, already, and he's not even a toddler yet.  Also, he is way more into Sean than the girls were at this age.  If Sean is around, Ben can't take his eyes off of him.  He watches his every move.  It's funny to me how when Ben says "dadda," it's always so happy and playful.  When he says "mama," it's usually in a whiney voice, like he needs or wants something.

So that's what the kiddos have been up to.  Growing and ever-changing and developing.  And for that, I am so thankful to my God who has let me borrow and love these precious lives He's created.

Wisdom From the Pope

“The inalienable dignity of every human being and the rights which flow from that dignity - in the first place the right to life and the defense of life - are at the heart of the church's message." Pope John Paul ended his address, saying: "In spite of divisions among Christians, 'all those justified by faith through baptism are incorporated into Christ...brothers and sisters in the Lord.'" Pope John Paul 2