Letter three.


Tomorrow's your second birthday. :) We've come a long way from those sleepless, weeping (me... not you) infant days but most of the time I still consider you my baby. Unless I want you to be doing something. And then I tell you, you're big. It's confusing, I know. :) 

Time is just moving. And you are growing. You started school two weeks ago and every day you come home with a new word. Your most recent sentences have been "mama's white car", "mama's room", "door locked" and "dat me" (while pointing at your own picture). You love school! And I'm so happy about it. We were nervous about the change between daycare and school, the longer days and the further commute. But you've been so strong about it all. Most of the time I fall apart after work but not you. You jump out of the car and immediately declare that you're going to "prae" which is your version of "play" and not actually "praying". :) You love music and singing and love "Twinkle, Twinkle" and "Mr. Sun". I love the way you say "sunshine" and "thank you" and I could listen to you say those words all day. 

You are so capable and independent. Most of the time, when we offer our help, you pull away from us and sometimes you grunt something under your breath as if we're driving you crazy. And other times, you melt in our arms and pull on our hands and make sure we're paying attention and coming your way and seeing you. Trust me, we're paying attention and we see you. We always see you. You walk with such purpose, talk with such innocence and observe with such keen sight. You're such an imitator.

You are sneaky. Boy, are you sneaky! You sneak up on us and creep and crawl through the house playing and scaring us. You hide in the hall closet and jump out as we walk by. The other day you hid on the other side of the basement door. Not so safe (you nearly fell down the stairs) but you were really proud of yourself when you saw the look of horror on my face that you actually scared me.

You are happy. You wake up bright-eyed and laughing and like to play in your crib. When I come in to get you, you pretend to be asleep except I know you're not because you're smiling from ear to ear. Then you jump up and down and all around and dive into your mattress. You love when I playfully cover you with your blankets and rub your back and pretend it's time to go back to sleep even though it's morning! You love Frank, your stuffed animal, and he comes everywhere with you. You call him "RiRi" and we all have to give RiRi kisses when you request them. 

You are busy. You move from one activity to another, one toy to the next, and keep going and going all day. My favorite days are the ones we get to stay home but I think the house is too small for you. You love to run and be free and be on your own. You love your after dinner walks with Buh-pa, riding your bike and most recently, pointing out our newly painted "blue house" and "baby grass". You always want to play outside. Whenever we walk out to the car, you make a turn to go to the backyard. But you don't stay there. If we turn away for even a second, you're already in the neighbor's yard. Especially if the neighborhood kids are out. When there are kids around, you are right in there with them. It doesn't matter how big they are. You're there and you're keeping up.

You are cuddly. After a long day, you tell me "big bed" and that means you want to snuggle upstairs in mama and daddy's bed. We turn on the AC and fan, change into comfy clothes and watch movies. You're a bit demanding with your movie choices. After a few minutes of something, you ask for something new. Our entire Netflix account is geared for you now :) You still love Mickey, Curious George and most recently, Winnie the Pooh.  

You are possessive. Not over your things -- no. But if other people touch things that don't belong to them you notice. If I hold daddy's phone you yell "no! daddy's phone" and take it away and return it to its rightful owner. You do it with shoes, sunglasses, and any other belongings you notice. You also value equality. Not yet in the broader sense of the word; however, if one person in the house has shoes on -- everyone needs to. If someone changes clothes, you need to change clothes. When I touch my belly and talk about our new baby -- you touch your belly and proudly tell me there's a baby in your belly, too. You don't want to miss out or be in the dark about anything. 

You are well-traveled. In your short two years, you've been to 18 states and 1 island (twice). You've been on planes, trains, buses, boats, ferries -- I think we just need to try a taxi. You love going places and doing things. You're such a good sport and you're really good to us. You have the ability to go with the flow (of course, we all have our off days) but in general you are just so good. You're playful and witty and smart and resilient and so perfect. 

I know you'll continue to grow and change because it's inevitable. But I hope you remain just as you are at the same time. I love the way you are. I love your age, your personality, your drive and cuteness. I hope you have the happiest of all birthdays, love bug. 

I can't wait to see what two brings. 

Love, Mama 


The pumpkin patch.

Last month, as we were driving home from Florida we took time to make a list of all the fall activities we wanted to complete and we even went as far as to put these activities into our joint calendar. ha! One thing we knew we wanted to do was visit a pumpkin patch! Last year when we went to the pumpkin patch in mid-October there weren't any pumpkins left! I looked up the best time to go pumpkin picking... and turns out mid-September is perfect! Who knew?! I can't guarantee the pumpkins won't rot before Halloween but we shall see!

We thought we'd take out Javi's radio flyer wagon for the first time! It seemed like a good vessel for the terrain and how perfect that we didn't need to carry a toddler.... or pumpkins! Luckily, he loved his ride and the whole thing made for some really fun pictures. :)
We went to a farm that's a pretty close to our house. It was really crowded but apparently everyone was there for apple picking (not pumpkin picking) so we pretty much had the patch to ourselves. Because it's so early in the season, the paths to walk through weren't yet cleared and the grass (? is it grass) was really tall. I was a bit worried about ticks so I stayed on the outskirts. :) But Sean jumped right in.
I can't wait to continue with our fall festivities. On the agenda is apple picking (and baking), a weekend trip to Maine, a day at the zoo and a 5K (should be a bit interesting since I'll be 29 weeks at that point). Not to mention getting ready for the new baby (setting up a nursery, etc.), re-doing our upstairs bathroom and purging our basement. Some things are clearly more fun than others. :)



 I turned 31 today!
Last night, Sean and I celebrated by going out to dinner and to the movies. We saw It -- and I was so scared! I remembered most of the scenes so I knew exactly when to look away (!) but it was still scary. Today we did a lot of errands but we also had ice cream cake twice, I got to choose what to have for lunch (Outback) and we tried to take a family photo (it was only mildly successful).
Javi thoroughly enjoyed blowing out my candles (again and again and again). You might say he's practicing for his very own birthday celebration -- next Saturday (though his birthday isn't until the 20th). The lucky guy had ice cream three times on his mama's birthday. :)


Getting ready for Montessori school.

Tomorrow, Javi joins one of the toddler classrooms at my school. I'm excited about this (and a bit nervous, if I'm being honest) but I'm really looking forward to seeing him throughout the day on the playground and in his Montessori classroom -- which is right down the hall from mine. He hasn't been in "school" before even though I called his daycare a "school", and he's jumping from a 3-day a week program to a 5-day a week program -- so it's a really exciting time for us in the Duffy Household!
(Javi spending time in my 3-6 classroom!)

Even though I teach older children there are things I suggest the parents in my classroom do to ease the transition of attending full-time school (for the first time, or after a long break), and in a Montessori setting. Javi's been at home with us for about 3 weeks and here's what we've been doing to prepare for the new school year:

1. We've created as many opportunities for independence, as possible: I know firsthand that Montessori schools inspire and encourage a certain level of independence in children even younger than Javi. At home, it's really easy to do everything for him (basically it's easier and more time efficient for us) but at school, I know he won't be the only child and it's not easier for the teachers just to do things for him. We've let him try to do things for himself from the beginning, but this summer we've put an emphasis on this type of independence -- putting on and taking off his socks and shoes, dressing himself, giving him an expectation or a direction once and trusting that he follows-through. We've put away his highchair and he eats all his meals on a normal dining room chair (and we continually ask him to come back to the chair every time he gets up!). We've also broadened his "yes-space" to a larger area of our home, and we've taken down most of the safety gates and have started encouraging him to go up and down the staircase without holding our hand -- knowing that at school he'll have a large, multi-floor campus to maneuver through -- even with teachers by his side.

2. We've been talking about his new school, and new teachers: About 3 weeks ago, his new teachers sent him a postcard in the mail with their pictures on it. I quickly put it up on the fridge (at his height) and every time we walk by the fridge I point to the photo and say their names again (he can sort of say both, by now!). The teachers of most toddler Montessori programs complete home-visits and ours is no different. So about 2 weeks ago, one of his teachers actually came to our house and spent time with us in our home environment. It was not only nice to get face-to-face time with a teacher but great for Javi to see us interact with her and for us to ask any final questions about his classroom, the routine, phase-in, etc.
3. We've purchased, gathered and labeled everything he needs for school: Javi got a backpack for Christmas last year and it's a great size for him so he's going to continue to use it but there were a number of other things listed that he didn't have -- a lunchbox, a water bottle, indoor shoes, etc. For the past month, I've been slowly picking up these things as I see them and he's been practicing unzipping and zipping both his backpack and lunchbox and trying on his new indoor shoes. This evening, I put those items on our table along with a bed sheet and blanket (for rest time), diapers and wipes, 3 extra outfits, his sweatshirt, outdoor shoes, boots, etc., etc., etc., and wrote his name on every single thing. Every single thing. Every single thing. At school, things get lost all the time so hopefully I'll be able to scoop it back up again if his name is on it.

I'm hoping that all these things, coupled with his 2 week phase-in process where he only attends school for an hour and 15 minutes each day will help with his transition to a new routine, teachers, friends, school, etc., etc., etc.! He has a lot happening for him in the next few weeks and I'm really excited to see how it turns out.


Cazenovia, New York.

Last weekend we traveled to upstate New York for my cousin Emily's wedding. The setting was a beautiful farm and it was so nice to spend time with family, be outside and watch a wedding! It was Javi's first and it was a perfect introduction to such a special event as there were so many great, kid-friendly things -- horse rides, a kids tent with coloring and bubbles, lots of space to run and play and even a hayride! We had so much fun!
Weddings are such an exciting time and I just love them. Javi was definitely a fan of all his cousins and he couldn't get enough of all the kids and animals on the farm! We were sad to leave a bit on the earlier side (it was already way past his bedtime!) but so happy to end the night with a hayride! And on the (7 minute) drive home...