Dear Dexter (2015)

IMG_2745IMG_1369 3yrsoldDear Dexter,

There’s this smartphone app called TimeHop…who knows if it will be around when you’re older. Every day it shows me a glimpse back at that day of each previous year that I shared something with social media. In the days and weeks leading up to today, I’ve so enjoyed looking back at blog posts from when I was pregnant with you 4 years ago. Life was filled with SO much uncertainty. Would we be able to handle life with 2 babies, just 14 months apart? We didn’t know anything about you. We didn’t know if you were a boy or a girl. You could have been Edyth June instead of Dexter Jay. Actually, you could have just as easily been Crosby Jay and almost were. We debated between Crosby and Dexter from the moment you were born until you were a good 4 or 5 hours old. It’s so weird to think about you being anything but a boy and anyone but our little Dexter Jay.

We didn’t know you’d have blonde hair and sparkly blue eyes or a contagious, constant, happy energy. We didn’t know you would have the laid back personality of someone who’s happy to be along for the ride, regardless of where we’re going. We didn’t know your laughter would make bad days better. We didn’t know you would find such joy in making other people happy. We just knew we already loved you and that love has only continued to grow and grow and grow.

We love seeing you look up to your big brother (except for those times when he’s not being a very good example – ha!). We love that you two are close. Buddies. We love that you love being around him. We love your big huge squeezy hugs and your sweet little tender kisses. We love that you made our family feel completely … complete. We love being together, the four of us, wherever the road takes us.

Before I had kids, I used to say that if I had 2 boys, I’d have 3 kids. I couldn’t imagine life without a daughter. Now that I have 2 boys, I can’t imagine life any other way. I can’t imagine a life without a house full of Legos and Batman toys or closets without holy jeans and dirty tennis shoes. I don’t want to imagine life that way – I know these things will disappear gradually.

You like to color. Every day you are gaining more control. You have surprised us with learning to write most of your name seemingly overnight! School has been a transition for you, but a good one. Your teachers have watched you grow. It’s hard to believe that a year from now we will be signing you up for Kindergarten. Poof! Just like that, the baby years are over. You still like Batman (a lot) but it doesn’t seem to be the obsession that it was 6 months or a year ago. You like heroes and the bad guys. You love water. Bath. Swimming.  You are scared of loud noises like the car wash, ShopVac, big trucks, hand dryers, and automatically flushing toilets. You will scream and cover your ears every time.

Lately we’ve been dealing with a dumb little medical issue. You are so scratchy! You have a common childhood rash on the back of your legs called Molluscum and you scratch, scratch, scratch it. And it gets infected, infected, infected. 2 weeks ago it got so bad that you ended up admitted to the hospital with IV antibiotics. Dexter! Honey! Stop scratching. Easier said than done, I know, and it wasn’t your fault. We are still working with the doctors to figure out how to keep this from happening over and over. But really, stop scratching.

We are all spending your 4th birthday together. Not only do we get to be together, we get to be together at our favorite place ever! Walt Disney World! There’s nowhere we’d rather be and no one we would rather spend the day with. I hope we can find the Star Wars cupcake you’ve been begging for while we are there.

Dexy, I have a feeling this is going to be a great year for you. For our family. You and your brother have grown and changed so much. I like to just sit and watch and listen to you two plan. You have big conversations and big imaginations. There’s no 2 boys I’d rather mother. When I think about you, I think about how blessed I am. Even when it seems like everything is going wrong, I’ve got you to hug at the end of the day. Please don’t stop hugging back!

So much love – Happy 4th Birthday, Dex!



Catch the Moment: Week 18

I’ll pick up right where we left off last week, with Dexter being admitted to the hospital on Wednesday night.

120/365: Thursday, April 30th. By Thursday Dexter’s itching was under control and we’d started giving him the antibiotics orally. He seemed stable enough that the docs felt comfortable discharging him just under 24 hours after we came in to the ED. My boy was such a trooper, I was really proud of him. He did fine with being confined. He did fine taking medicine. He did fine with the no-no board (so he wouldn’t mess with his IV). He didn’t get much sleep but he was still in a good mood. I don’t know if I’d ever been happier to go home.04-30-2015

121/365: Friday, May 1st. Ryan’s parents watched Dexter Friday. I just wasn’t ready for him to go back to school. We played it by ear and decided it was still okay to go forward with the boys staying the weekend as we’d been planning for several weeks. I’m sure it was a nice distraction for Dexter from all the yucky medicine he is taking. I took this a little too late to catch the sunrise after I tucked the boys in bed and headed home.05-01-2015

122/365: Saturday, May 2nd. Niko was very helpful with folding laundry.05-02-2015

123/365: Sunday, May 3rd. Life lately.05-03-2015

124/365: Monday, May 4th. A little treat for myself – mani + pedi after work. I take my camera almost everywhere I go, including work. Good news: when I realized I’d be able to make it to Dexter’s follow up appointment with the pediatrician, I tore out of work. Bad news: I left my camera locked in my desk. So this is my 2nd phone photo this year. Boo. The color is lovely though!05-04-2015

125/365: Tuesday, May 5th. Another week without a picture of Theo, huh. Shoot. He’s just not as cooperative lately. I’ll have to work harder. So here’s Dexter shaking a maraca made at school in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. 05-05-2015


This is a short, early post this week. Next week I’ll be a couple days late with an extra picture. All for a very good reason though!

Linking up with Mindi at Stavish Stills Photography, Carrie at My Life, Our Journey, and Stephanie at Behind the Camera and Dreaming.



Dexter at 3 1/2

As I mentioned in my previous post about Theo, we had parent/teacher conferences at the boys’ pre-school just before vacation.  I was most worried about Dexter’s conference because of his potty-training regression since beginning school in August.  This summer he was diaper-free, wearing underwear even at night. He had been doing great and I had no doubt in my mind that he was “ready” for pre-school.

Developmentally, he is right on target and has expressed interest in several areas. He is especially drawn to the water tasks, such as squeezing water from a sponge into a bowl, re-absorbing it, and repeating. His teachers said if there is a water “job” out, that is what Dexter chooses.  The Montessori classroom is organized into areas and right now Dexter spends most of his time in the Practical Life area, which is typical for his age. His teachers said that some days he is not interested in doing any work, but will instead watch his peers for long periods of time.  He isn’t particularly drawn to any of his peers, but gets along well with everyone and prefers to sit by his teacher during circle time. He is working with early math and language concepts.

My biggest concern was his potty-training.  After 8 weeks in school, he had only gone 1 week (and he only goes 3 days a week) with no accidents and most weeks he was having multiple accidents. Usually just pee, but not always.  Gross. I felt terrible that they were having to deal with this over and over and over.  It made me sad for Dexter, because to me, that meant either that he was nervous, anxious, or not feeling comfortable asking a teacher for help. It made me feel terrible for the teachers that they were having to clean up his messes.  How could a teacher not resent a kid that was crapping his pants once or twice a week? How could a teacher not resent the parents of a kid who swore he was potty-trained and “ready” for pre-school, who apparently was not.  I was spending way too much time worrying about it while at work and feeling apprehensive every time I pulled up to the school to pick them up, cringing from the inside out every time I saw a bag (or two. or three.) of wet / soiled clothing in his cubby.

I apologized profusely in emails to his teacher, to which she replied that it was not a problem and that they were still working on learning his cues. I still couldn’t help feeling sick about it because I truly feared that any day they would kindly pull me aside and tell me that Dexter just wasn’t able to return until he was potty-trained. So what would that mean? Putting him back in diapers? No, but if he had to go back to the sitter 5 days a week for having too many accidents at school, wouldn’t the sitter WANT him in a pull-up or diaper?  It was just starting to look like we were going down a path I didn’t want to travel.  After asking many questions about Dexter’s classroom behavior and discussing his progression, I brought up the potty training issue.


His sweet teacher so calmly expressed that Dexter is doing FINE.  That I didn’t need to worry about it. That for every 1-2 bags of wet clothes I see, he is going to the bathroom and making it there on his own at least 4 or 5 times.  They don’t prompt the kids to go to the bathroom unless they notice them squirming. Sometimes they miss his cues.  They said that him having accidents and having to change his clothes provides a great learning moment in independence for him.  If he pees on his clothes, he is responsible for changing and he is capable of doing that all on his own.  Sometimes it takes him 20 minutes but that’s okay.

She really put it into perspective for me by saying that he is only 3.  Three. It’s only been a little over 3 years since he was inside my belly, completely incapable of doing anything independently. What was I doing three years ago (besides caring for a tiny baby)? Pretty much all the same things I am doing today.  Dexter, on the other hand, has learned to walk, talk, feed himself, dress himself, go to the bathroom, and so much more.  He has learned more in three years than an adult could hope to learn in the next 20.  He will continue to learn at a very fast rate for the next few years. It’s hard to do so many new things all day every day. So with that in mind, Dexter is doing FINE.

True.  It’s all about perspective.  He only had a handful of accidents on vacation. Even less the week after we returned.  I am not going to let myself worry about it anymore because my little boy is doing everything he is supposed to be doing.  He will figure it all out.  He’s just having a little adjustment period.

More post-vacation insight has come to me since we’ve been home, this time about Dexter.  During vacation, Dexter became very attached to his tennis shoes and a blue satin cape that he calls his Batman cape. He wears it at home a lot but it has never caused any problems. The tennis shoes we bought a couple of months ago are black with royal blue and yellow trim and he also refers to them as his “bat” shoes.  He didn’t want to take his shoes off in the car. He didn’t want to take them off for bed. He didn’t want to take off the cape to go into stores or to go to bed. Or the pool. Or the beach.  He threw some hairy tantrums over those items; it was as if we told him his puppy just died.  It was bad!!  He also got mad if we didn’t have a Batman shirt for him to wear – thank goodness we were able to do laundry there. He finally accepted that he could wear the cape in the car and condo but nowhere else and that he had to leave his shoes under the bed at night.  It was the first thing he thought about when he woke up – the cape and shoes went right back on.  Ryan and I started looking at each other with concern, thinking WHY is he so rigid about these things all of the sudden?  We optimistically and tentatively decided it’s just a phase.

As soon as we got home, the preoccupation with his shoes and cape was all but forgotten. OK, that might be a stretch – he hasn’t forgotten but it’s gone back to the way it was before vacation.  He doesn’t cry when it’s time to take them off. He doesn’t have to have them close at bedtime.  He doesn’t try to wear the cape out of the house.  Upon noticing this a few days after we got home, I recalled another time when Dexter became extremely attached to another item.

When Theo started Pre-school last year, it was the first time that the boys had ever been apart for any length of time.  Along with this change, they had started at a new babysitter just a month earlier. Dexter started asking to take one of Theo’s old stuffed animals (that Theo never played with a ton) to the babysitter. We let him. After a couple of weeks, the babysitter asked that he stop bringing it because it was causing problems. We agreed but there were some really, really terrible drop offs in the morning for the next week or two, with Dexter desperately begging for the puppy, bawling as I walked away, and me crying all the way to work. It was hard.

We had been home from vacation for a week before I realized the similarities.  Although he was with us, we were away from home. For a long time. He’s only 3; a week might as well be a month.  It just never crossed my mind during vacation that he was trying to adjust or find comfort in this new situation.  There’s something sweet and fascinating and well, comforting, to me about the whole thing – him self-soothing when feeling out of sorts, me figuring things out as we go, and knowing that we’ve got a long way to go on this journey, but that we’ll continue learning together.

Dexter. My bubbly, never-too-serious, blonde, blue-eyed, funny boy.  Sensitive and sweet. Learning by leaps and bounds and little by little, all at the same time.  He likes to pretend. One minute he’s Batman and I’m Wonder Woman. Then next minute he’s Baby and I’m Sissy. He’s got a vivid imagination and a love for Legos to rival his big brother’s.  He’s kind and forgiving. Passionate yet silly.  What would I do without him? He keeps us on our toes and makes our lives so interesting.