I keep noticing all of these special moments scattered throughout our day-to-day lives that I’d like to record before the days pass and the memories slip away, and this seems like a fun place to do it despite my failure to keep this blog up to date. Westin, in 2,000+ words and countless amounts of love, here’s a random summary of your life right now as a two-and-a-half year old!
Names: You still insist that your name is “Me!” You are learning to say Nanie, Pappy (“Poppy/Puppy”), Mem, and Pap-Paw. You have also started saying the names of your friends, like “Tal” and your own version of Talia, “Ash” for Ashlynn, “Keeg” for Keegan, “Peit” for Peityn, and Nate. You have also learned the names of your caregivers, Ms. A and Sally. You still call Morgan “dog,” although it sounds more like “bog” or “bock.”
Manners: You cover your mouth when you cough (and even request a tissue when you need to blow your nose). You say ’cuse me, sorry, please (“pease”), and thank you. You like to help with little tasks. “Me help?” you ask. You like to give kisses or get Mommy and Daddy band aids when we have boo-boos (“bee bees”). Sometimes you even give kisses to your toys if they get hurt. You also like to share your Cars gummy vitamins (“Dars hum”) with us and take special care to pick out one for each of us every night. You say, “Night, Daddy!” when we go to bed and are learning to say love (“lub”). Recently when I told you I love you, you said, “Lub Mommy.” Sometimes you just smile in response and acknowledge your understanding by sweetly saying, “Uh huh.”
Letters and Numbers: You know that W is your letter. You point to it and exclaim, “Me!” You can say the letters E and I and often recite the entire alphabet using just those two letters. “E, I, E, I, E, I…” Four is your favorite number, and you insist that you are four, although you are learning to say the other numbers too and are even starting to show them to us on your fingers. Just like the alphabet, you count repeating the number four over and over again, annunciating the word differently each time. “Four, four, four, FOUR!” I often wonder if you are reciting these things correctly in your head and just lack the ability to pronounce them.
Colors: For a while you were really attracted to green. Now blue seems to be your favorite color. You have a turtle that projects stars onto your ceiling at night, and at bedtime you insist on the blue stars (“boo dars”). Although you can’t say many color words yet, you do seem to recognize a lot of colors by sight and can group items according to color. You often point to colors (or numbers…or letters) and say, “Mommy?” asking me to say it for you. Then you point to the next one and repeat and so on.
Music: We listen to the Cars Song and Story CD (Cars/”Dars” music) and Toy Story Song and Story CD (Woody/”Wee” music) in the car a lot. Daddy gets tired of listening to them on repeat, but I never mind your requests. Lately you have also been asking for “happy music,” which is If You’re Happy and You Know It. You listen to the song, clap along, and exclaim, “Me happy!” You LOVE dancing and really get into the beat of the music. You often stop in the middle of playing and break out into dance moves if a commercial or show or movie plays a song you like. Often you grab me by the hands so I will join you. You also have a new obsession with the Pete the Cat (“Pete Cat”) CDs and the accompanying storybooks. We always listen to the CDs in the same order, as dictated by you: “shoes” (Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes), “butt’n” (Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons), and “other shoes” (Pete the Cat Rocking In My School Shoes).
Outside: It is so fun rediscovering the world with you. You are always eager to point out the “dars” (stars) and “mouse” (moon). You often say “More mouse!” sometimes asking to spot another moon or sometimes finding the same moon again, and I tell you there is only one moon. You like to look at pine needles, and I tell you that’s what Christmas trees are made of. Lately you have been exclaiming “Know!” and “More know!” when you see snow. We recently hunted for pine cones in the melted snow. You were excited to point out each one you found. You still exclaim whenever you hear a plane (a habit that began last summer), and we quickly search for it in the sky before it passes by. A few weeks ago you asked to see the fish in our pond, and I explained to you that they are hiding at the bottom of the water until it gets warm again. I’m reminded that all of these things are new to you and were once very new to me too.
Inside: Hide and seek is one of your favorite activities! Usually you ask me to hide with you and then holler for Daddy to find us. “Da-eee, me hide!” We say “Shh!” and smile and giggle while we wait for him to find us, and once he does, you squeal with excitement and say, “More hide!” Your hiding places are very clever—in the bathroom, under the dining room table, beside the bed, under a blanket, and virtually anywhere that you can hide your face even if the rest of your body is still showing. At Christmas I had an artificial poinsettia sitting out, and you stood next to it repeatedly and hid your face behind the flower. You also like playing with your cars and choo choos and often ask me to join you. “Mommy pay dars?” We also pretend to “fall” on the floor and then we “help” each other up. This can go on for quite some time. You also like when I chase you around the house or when you run past Daddy and he tries to catch you. Your laughter is a joy! You still enjoy bath time and playing with your Cars bath toys, “bubbies” (bubbles), and fun water coloring tablets.
Brains: I realize all the time how smart you are even though it often takes some decoding. Sometimes I just lack the ability to understand what you are telling me, and sometimes you just aren’t able to vocalize all the things that I know are in your head. You make so many neat connections to things. For instance, you once pointed to a picture of a jellyfish and said, “SpongeBob!” I thought, ok, sure, SpongeBob and jellyfish both live in the ocean. Then later I noticed that jellyfish often appear on the show and are sometimes even a symbol for the show. Your little brain remembered that! You also named your Cars songs “Chick music” (Real Gone) and “Mack music” (Life is a Highway) because the songs play in the movie while those characters are on screen. Again, it took me some time before realizing what you were trying to tell me by mentioning those names each time the songs came on. Lately you have been very excited when you hear “Baa Baa Black Sheep.” I couldn’t figure out why that song in particular stood out to you, and then it occurred to me you recognize it from your favorite Sesame Street DVD. One time you asked to watch Cars, and when we asked which one, you showed us your toy Holley to indicate that you wanted to watch Cars 2. You are also SO good at puzzles. You learn them so quickly, even those marketed for ages 3+, that often they do not remain challenging for very long.
Memory: Going along with your brains is your memory. You can recall far away things like the “beach.” It also broke my heart to learn that you could recall hurting your arm on Christmas Eve. You were a trooper through the experience and we thought it was a blessing that you would be “too young to remember,” but about a week afterward, you were able to recall which arm you hurt, that it was your elbow (you pointed and said “here”), and that the injury occurred while you were “high” up in the air. Two months after Christmas you spotted your Santa jammies and exclaimed, “Ho ho!” You didn’t even say “Ho ho” at Christmastime, but it was there in your mind somewhere. Sometimes you remember activities and games we made up days ago and you want to play them again even though they are not always as fresh in my mind or Daddy’s. I know some people claim children don’t remember anything up until a certain age, but you prove to me the opposite. I know these things will not be long-term memories, and I have to wonder where those memories and experiences go, but things stick with you and you are building upon those experiences every day.
Art: The other night you asked me to draw “Mee Mouse” (Minnie Mouse) over and over again. You have been telling me you are drawing things like “Woody Hat” and “Mack Face” (what we call the scene in Cars when Mack is making faces at his own reflection on the rear end of the truck in front of him). I’m amazed that your scribbles mean such specific things to you. Lately you’ve had a fascination with my markers and colored pencils. Of course they aren’t washable like your own–you proudly show off the marks you draw on your fingers!
Characters: You have such a growing list of TV and movie characters you’re interested in. Your interests include “Pirate” from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, “Fia” from Sofia the First, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spiderman, IronMan, SpongeBob, Mickey Mouse and Friends, Cars (you can say “Ma-er” (Mater), “Weegi” (Luigi), “Harge” (Sarge), and Sally), Planes, Happy Feet, “Other movie” (Despicable Me 2), “Choo Choo” (Thomas the Train), “Wee” (Woody) from Toy Story, “Bird movie” (Free Birds), Olaf from Frozen, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, “Dora,” and the list goes on… Most mornings we watch part of Thomas the Train and Play with Me Sesame before going to daycare, and you are learning to use the “mote” to help turn the TV off. (You also like helping to turn lights on and off.) You are quick to spot your favorite characters on things when we are out shopping, and most days you request to wear a specific character shirt, jammies, socks, or shoes. A regular shirt just won’t do!
Food: You remain a very picky eater and a self-proclaimed vegetarian. Typically the only meat you will eat is bologna sticks. You never eat much in one sitting. You love gummies (“hum”), yogurt smoothies, applesauce, pizza, popcorn, Teddy Grahams, Goldfish, strawberries (“bees”), Craisins, pancakes, cheese, grilled cheese, and cereal (especially Lucky Charms and “ball cereal,” which can be either Trix or Cocoa Puffs). You love chocolate milk and juice and request your juice by character name depending on who is on the bottle or juice box: “Wee juice” (Woody juice), “Dars juice” (Cars juice), “bird juice” (Big Bird juice), etc. We worry that your diet doesn’t consist of the proper variety or nutrition, but you are thriving and growing taller by the day!
Words and Phrases: You impress me with new words every day! Some words you repeat once and never say again and others quickly become a part of your regular vocabulary. You repeat a lot of what I say (like “Belly hurt”) and a lot of what you hear on TV (like “All aboard!”). Some words you can pronounce clear as day, and others have your own special sound. Sometimes I have a hard time understanding what you are trying to tell me, and we both get very frustrated. You repeat yourself over and over to the point of yelling the words at me, and I have to think through what we just did and what you just saw to hopefully figure out what you mean. I used to ask you to show me, but that doesn’t work as well anymore since you aren’t always talking about physical things. I love that you are vocalizing things so much and that these things are important enough to you to keep repeating until I understand. I keep realizing lately that someday you won’t call Morgan “bog” and fruit snacks will no longer be “hum” and your sweet “pease” will be correctly pronounced as please. And so I felt it important to capture all of your unique pronunciations here before they are gone. Already it seems like a distant memory that “ball” was your first word and “ba” once meant ball or dog or balloon depending on the context. I won’t ever get 2.5-year-old Westin back, and all your special words will too quickly be gone from my life before I even realize they are missing.
Potty Training: I think “Potty Bribing” is the more appropriate term because we are rewarding you with prizes (“pies”) for using the potty. You first showed an interest in using the potty at 18 months, which was very young. Though we never used the potty regularly, you grew eager to use the potty when given the opportunity and even started telling us when you needed to poop. That ended this past fall. You screamed and cried if we asked you to use the potty, and you denied pooping in your diaper every time. You continued to use the potty at daycare though, so I never pressed the issue and knew your interest would return again someday. That interest has come in the form of sticker charts and prizes! Although you are still sometimes resistant to use the potty at home, you are usually eager at the chance to earn more stickers and prizes and are even starting to tell us when you need to use the potty again sometimes. You like to stand to pee in your frog potty and even aim, which I find impressive! You wake up with a dry diaper most mornings, so I am confident we are slowly headed in the right direction toward a diaper-free life!
Books: In addition to Pete the Cat, you love any Cars book and most any other book with your favorite characters. You enjoy counting books and color books and books from the “My First Look and Find” series. You also have a Curious George book you really like. Sometimes you sit through a whole reading (or even ten books in a row), and other times you turn to the last page and say, “E I” for “The End,” although it is starting to sound more and more like The End.
Affection: Sometimes you like to give hugs and kisses and high fives, and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you play hard to get. You like to snuggle when you wake up and cry out for more if I get up from our snuggles too soon. Sometimes you gently push my head onto the pillow so I will lie down next to you. Sometimes you don’t want to let me go, and sometimes you say, “Bye, Mom!” and push me away. Most days you exclaim, “Mommy!” or “My mommy!” or “Me Mommy!” when I get to daycare and you run to me with open arms. I get a big hug and then you run off to play some more. It’s the best feeling in the world, and I cherish all the hugs and kisses and snuggles knowing someday they will not be as plentiful. This morning as we were walking out the door, you said, “Hold me pease,” and I was glad to. I hugged you and remarked that someday you will be too big for me to hold but I will still have big hugs for you then and I will hold you as long as I can before that time comes.