Friday, February 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Warren!

Having a three year old was supposed to be easier than having a two year old. Unfortunately for me, my three year old never got that memo – instead the terrible twos that never really developed until the last part of his two year old year ramped up until I was quite certain that I would lose my mind in quite a dramatic show down over bedtime or back talking or daredevil stunts off the living room sofa. Indeed, three was a challenging year for my little mischief maker – probably because three was also a year fraught with so many changes in our home life that it made me and the hubs a little crazy, which makes the Monkey’s transition to Chief Mischief Maker all the more understandable.

Shortly after his third birthday, we learned that we were going to have another baby placed with us. We ended up changing childcare centers to a more affordable center who would take all three kids (including the new baby) and Warren did fine with that transition – he asked about his little buddies from the old school a lot and really seemed to miss Jay and Malik – but he quickly made good friends with Ariani and Skyler and Arlis. So it worked out well in the end.

Two weeks after the move, our little Bunny baby joined our family, and Warren fell in love. Even though he was getting more challenging by the minute, he did such a great job being a big brother first to Liam and then to Elie – he always wanted to sit with me to help give her bottles. This was a huge change from just two years prior when we had a little girl placed with us for a few days and he did everything in his power to push her out of the house as quickly as a case manager could come get her. I’ve watched him grow into such a wonderful and protective big brother over the last two years since then – he was even more attentive to Elie than he was to Liam when Liam first came to us (though don’t be fooled – he is fiercely protective of his little brother, too, just watch him if someone tries to do something to Liam he doesn’t approve of).

He helped Liam celebrate turning into a one year old by teaching him how to expertly lick the frosting off of a cupcake and then eat the entire cupcake without missing a crumb. He even offered to help Liam with the leftover frosting if it was too much for him to eat. He helped Liam learn how to walk by moving toys just out of his reach until the poor baby was forced to learn how to take a few steps on his own just to steal back what he had rightfully taken earlier.

Warren started taking jazz and ballet lessons over the last part of spring and loved the classes a lot – to the point of being quite disappointed when the season was over. He looked forward to the fall when dance would start again – and he was able to take classes for a few weeks until taekwondo classes sort of took over every last second of free time we had as a family and we abandoned ballet in favor of taekwondo.

We spent the summer going to the Trousdell activity pool, where Warren, Liam and Elie splashed and played to their hearts’ content, and Warren eagerly awaited the day when he would be finally big enough to go down the big water slide – he had finally gotten tall enough to ride his first rollercoaster at Disney (Barnstormer) in March – but alas he did not gain enough height prior to the season’s end. He is now (as of Friday) 42 and a quarter inches tall, so it looks like this summer he will be graduating to the big slide.

We made a failed attempt at moving him to a preschool in Tallahassee at the museum – which was a huge tactical mistake – one that made me seriously question every choice I had ever made as a mother. But it led us to actually switch him to the larger location of the school he was currently attending, which has been a HUGE success. This actually helped me get on board with him going to the Wakulla County schools next August when he starts kindergarten.

Two weeks ago he tested for his yellow belt in taekwondo and passed. I was so proud of my little monkey! He answered the questions beautifully and showed his newly acquired skills like a little ninja warrior. And next weekend he will compete in Spring Nationals for the very first time.

I’ve noticed a big change in Warren over the last month or so that is making me start to tear up a little thinking about it. My baby is growing up. The challenging, mercurial days of his third year are winding down and he’s finally starting to show some real progress in self-control and big boy behavior. He has finally started to sleep through the night in his own bed, he goes to bed without fighting and whining anymore, he is much easier to reason with and get a point across to – and he’s even starting to recognize when he’s back talking saying, “I know, mommy. I shouldn’t back talk. I’m sorry.” All of these things are wonderful, but they also make me realize my boy is growing up!

I took him to Karen’s Bakery this morning on the way to school so we could pick out some treats to take to his little friends at school to celebrate his birthday. Oh my goodness, it was such a fun morning activity to share with him too! He was amazed by all the cookies in all of the cases and watched in glee and wonderment as Miss Karen iced 35 cupcakes for us to take to school today. He was even more excited when she offered him a little thumbprint cookie – which made me remember fondly the times my aunt or grandmother had taken me to the little bakery in Perry to get me thumbprint cookies.

Warren has learned how to write the alphabet, read some small words, draw actual pictures of things, tell really cool stories and seriously terrible knock knock jokes, and he’s even learned how to hit a T-ball and climb up the monkey bars he couldn’t even attempt last year. He’s grown 5 inches taller and six pounds heavier, had several funky haircuts, learned to love guacamole and how to manipulate me into letting him watch “just one more show.” All along the way, my love for him has grown deeper and more full every single day – something I didn’t know was even possible as I already loved him so fiercely!

Tonight, when he drifts off to sleep in his Lightening McQueen sheet set, I will put balloons outside his bedroom door so that when he wakes up tomorrow morning that will be the first thing he sees. I cannot wait to see how his four year old year will turn out, but I can definitely tell that we’re going to love every second of it! Happy birthday, my dear, sweet Warren. Mommy loves you to the moon and back – no – actually, Mommy loves you to infinity!

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