Since Jackson was six months old, we have been celebrating half birthdays. Its a fun way to mix up an otherwise ordinary day, eat cake, and celebrate our fun little guys. Today marks Jackson’s fourth half birthday, and he is three and a half years old! I think its fair to say that, so far, three has been a challenge. People tell you all the time about the terrible twos, and how hard it is to have a two year old. I think that the terrible twos are an urban legend. Two was easy. It’s what comes after two that has you wanting to rip your hair out on a daily basis. What they fail to warn you about is the threenager.
Threenagers are a lot like teenagers, except that they still look like babies. Its tricky, really, because why does someone who looks so sweet have to be so mean!? They throw tantrums…MAJOR tantrums, start to tell you how mean you are, and try to use their newfound language skills to test every single boundary that has ever been set for them. They cry because its sunny, or because its rainy, or because grass isn’t blue. But under all of the threenage angst and feelings lies a lot of fun too.
My threenager is REALLY into a few things: ghostbusters is probably at the top of his list these days. He loves to run around busting ghosts and talking to his buddies Ray & Igon (He is Venkman, obvi). He also loves any type of construction equipment or tractor, firetrucks, and still is going strong with the fierce love of mickey mouse, although Paw Patrol has recently honed in on the mickey time quite a bit.
Jack is still an awesome big brother to Wyatt, and in fact, just last night he asked Zac if we could have another baby, and said that a sister would be cool. That definitely won’t be happening anytime soon!
We are so lucky to have this imaginative, funny, smart, moody, lovable three and a half year old. I can’t even remember what life was like without him - though I imagine it was a LOT more boring and far less wonderful
Each year I make a half cake for the half birthday boy. I get the question “well, what do you do with the other half?!” a LOT. Guys, its just one cake. A single layer of a round cake, cut in half and stacked. This year, I went with my FAVORITE chocolate cake from scratch (seriously, amazing), and a simple piped icing:
I want to get my babysitting license but my school just offers the classes, we don't get anything to prove we did it. As a parent what would you think about a babysitter that doesn't have their license... Should I take the extra classes to get the license?
I think that taking the classes is a great step in the right direction. We are really very lucky to have all of our family nearby, so it is rare that I have a non-family member watch my children, but if I were to look for someone outside of the family, I think the most important qualities for me would be the personality & capabilities of the person I would be leaving the boys with. I am a very instinct-based person, so I would want to meet them and get a feeling about them first, and then beyond that would absolutely require that the babysitter be CPR & First Aid certified on children and infants. The classes are great and can tell you a great deal about children and I think anyone can come up with fun and interesting activities, but the safety in the event of a medical emergency would be my most important criteria, especially when you are dealing with infants and toddlers who are either learning how to eat table food or try to eat quickly - there is definitely an increased risk of choking. With that said, I am always a fan of additional education, so I think getting the license would be awesome and probably give you a better chance at acquiring the babysitting job over someone who didn’t have a license. Any type of validation would help to put my mind at ease as a parent.
There are so many wonderful things about being a parent. There are an equal number of challenging things as well. If I had to pick, I would say that my favorite thing really is watching my boys experience things for the first time. From small things, like finding a new food or activity that they really enjoy, to larger, more pivotal experiences. Last summer Jackson went to Disney and for the first time really grasped that the characters were THERE and larger than life. It was really moving to watch him launch his tiny body into their arms and hang on tightly, hugging them to express his excitement. He was able to get some one-on-one time with Mickey, who is his favorite, by far. Whether it is a new experience for all of us, or something new to them, it is fun to experience it through the eyes of a child and feel all of the excitement rolling off of them. Parenting is definitely the most rewarding job I have ever had, but it should also be noted that it is the hardest and most important job I have ever had as well.
I wait on the edge of my seat as she counts the number of lines in the swirl. I’m holding my breath, hoping that the results don’t yield the neighborhood kid brother. She does the count, crossing out every sixth answer on my sheet until each category has only one line item remaining. ”A school teacher, married to Jonathan Taylor Thomas, with five teenagers, living in a mansion in Florida, and driving a minivan!!!” my older sister squeals at me. I jump around, cheering in response, as I have just hit the jackpot of all MASH games! I mean, who really wants to end up in a shack with no children and the kid brother? It wasn’t going to be me, that much I knew.
I turned thirty today. 3-0. THIRTY. Three decades on this planet, and I find myself reflecting back, mostly on my childhood, and drawing some comparisons between where I thought I would end up, and where I am now. When I was a girl, I thought that thirty was O-L-D. Really, I thought that “teenagers” were old. Sixteen was such a grown up. I couldn’t even imagine a day when I might be that old. At this point, my mom probably wasn’t even thirty, having given birth to my sister at 19 and me at 21. I thought that if I did, somehow, make it to thirty, that I would probably have a whole head of gray hair by then. I knew that I would have at least five teenagers. And I would be a teacher, and would totally be driving the coolest vehicle of all time….a Dodge Caravan. I sure hoped that I would be living in a mansion with JTT, but whatever house I lived in would be right next-door to my big sister, Angie and my super cool neighbor Pam.
As time went on, I still thought of 30 as pretty ancient. What 16 year old wants to be 30? At that point I daydreamed about every single one of my crushes or high school boyfriends and I beating the odds and staying together forever. We would be thirty, with a bunch of kids in a house, and that’s about as far as it went. College came, and I grew up. I realized that thirty was coming, and was excited to start focusing on building a life and a career, and eventually shacked up with the man that I get to be thirty with.
Throughout the childhood and teenage years, you draw a distinction between age groups. Sort of an ‘us and them.’ “Us” being the kids, and “them” being the grownups, of course. I always just recognized people who were of a certain age as adults. The age was probably 25, but then it crept to maybe 27, and so forth. I distinctly remember the day that I first thought that thirty isn’t that old. I had graduated college, started a job, and had a bunch of young, awesome colleagues who were all turning thirty. They dressed trendy, went out and partied, and were a really fun time to be around. That’s when I knew. I’m getting old. And I will probably be thirty too.
This weekend it has been really fun for me to reflect on those childhood MASH games and look at where I thought I would end up, with where I am now. I don’t live in a mansion with JTT. Bummer. I do have a home with a hubby who is probably ten thousand times better than JTT (sorry, bud). And actually, my best friend used to call him “Zachary Taylor Thomas” all the time, or ZTT for short. I certainly don’t have 5 teenagers, but I do have a threenager, who is probably even more frustrating than five teenagers at times. I didn’t become a teacher, but I did continue to love and value education. I got a bachelor’s degree, and then a master’s degree, and work in higher education. I’m kind of glad I didn’t relocate to Florida, because it’s pretty humid in the summer, and I will never drive a minivan. Its pretty wild how eerily similar the comparisons are. Really, a lot of the answers are the same, just in grown up terms rather than the mind of a child. In any case, my MASH predictions were awesome, but real life is even better. Thirty never looked so good.
Scene: Tonight, putting Jackson to bed. Every night we talk about his day - what made him happy, if anything made him feel sad, and general musings. He calls it “chatting.”
Me: What made you happy today?
J: A Mad Face (his usual first answer)
Me: Oh, wow. What made you sad today?
J: A happy face!
Me: Who did you play with at school today
J: [names of friends redacted]
Me: What about Lucy*?
J: No, Lucy’s not nice.
Me: Oh no, why not?!
J: She doesn’t like it.
Me: Doesn’t like what?
Me: Oh dear. Well maybe she just likes to play different types of toys than you?
J: Yeah. Lucy likes doll things
Me: Doll things! That sounds fun! Maybe you can play dolls with Lucy. Tell her about your doll Jackula!
J: Nah, I like the boy toys. I don’t play doll things.
Me: Well, there aren’t really “boy” toys and “girl toys” - if you want to play with a doll, that would be great!
J: Yeah…that’s not gonna happen.
So I don’t know how he thinks that there are boy toys and girl toys. I have tried to provide ample opportunities to play with any traditionally girl toys that he could possibly want, but the kid just LOVES THE TRUCKS. He likes pink enough, and if I am painting my nails he will ask if I can paint his (lets me paint one nail and then is over it), but I just can’t seem to convince him to play dolls. Oh, and as I was leaving his room he said “Ok! Ciao! Bye!” - He is in rare form this evening.
*Name changed to protect privacy of classmate, who has a VERY unique name ;)
"I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!" he exclaims as he whizzes past us in the backyard, pushing the pedal, laughing excitedly. I watch as he fearlessly takes the hill head-on. The wheels spin for a moment, as if he were stuck in the mud or snow, but they regain their grip, and he is flying across the hill, behind the swing set, giggling the entire time. I watch his golden hair fly upwards in the breeze, his body lurching back every time he presses that pedal, as if he is surprised at the speed it has.
He speeds down the hill, but instead of taking the downhill head on, he cuts the wheel to the side and looks as if he might tip over. As his mother, my breath catches and I am afraid for a moment he may flip over, but my fears are eased just as quickly as they came on. He rights it and screeches to a halt on the patio. It’s one of those moments that I want to jump in and help, but feel immense pride when he accomplishes something on his own.
He sets to work filling the bucket, tossing in all of his trucks and toys. The first time he over fills it, and it dumps out before he can drive away. His toddler temper sets in and he hops off the tractor, kicking his toys with an angry face. Grandma helps him re-load a reasonable amount of toys into the bucket and he speeds off again. He nearly runs into my legs as he comes to a stop and dumps all of the toys out in front of me. He asks if I am glad that he brought the toys to me at Target. I tell him I am so glad, and he is off again for another load. Back and forth he goes, until the sun begins to set. He tells us that he hears the sounds of the night, and that he is thinking about parking the tractor in the garage now. Except the way he says it makes us laugh, because it sounds more like car-rodge than garage. I walk him around to the front of the house and help him park his toy for the night.
Before my grandparents leave, he showers them with affection for bringing him his new favorite toy. I, too, am touched by their generosity, and tell them so multiple times, although I have a sneaky suspicion that it was just as much for them as it was for him. As his mother I am now in on their secret: watching my boy be so excited over a toy that he couldn’t have dreamed was his own is the adult equivalent to being the child who is receiving it.
Thank you so much Grandma & Grandpa Rusty for the Tractor, he loves it so very much.
Today Wyatt went to an ENT to have an upper lip tie release (frenectomy). We had been last week for a consult, as I suspected that he had a lip tie, and sure enough, he had a pretty severe one. I was so on the fence about whether or not to have the frenectomy done, but in the end, decided to go ahead with the procedure.
When both of my boys were first born, nursing was really painful. I just chalked it up to “building up a callous.” While I do think that was part of it, now I know better. With both boys, the pain was temporary, only lasting for the first 4 weeks or so, and I got by with truckloads of lanolin and nipple shields, and at the end of four weeks we eased into an easy nursing relationship. Jackson, who was supplemented with formula from the start (9 lb baby, blood sugar requirements at birth, etc), self-weaned at 8 months old, long before I was ready to end our nursing relationship. Wyatt has been exclusively breastfed from day one, without a drop of formula, and he is super committed to nursing, and is really protective and territorial about my boobs, so I don’t think that he will be choosing to wean at 8 months like his older brother.
Anyway - over the past seven months we dealt with a couple of issues that made me think that something was off - clogged ducts, nipple pain, etc. It was pretty clear that his latch wasn’t right from the start, but I had thought we were in the clear after that initial few weeks of pain. Then, the worst of it all happened. I had actual cuts on each nipple and one day at work, as I was gritting my teeth through a painful pumping session, I looked down and realized that I had pumped 2 ounces of BLOOD. I felt pretty defeated and grossed out, and consulted Dr. Google about why the heck I had cuts and was bleeding when my baby was already 6 months old. I started looking at photos of tongue ties and lip ties and instantly saw, based on the photos, that Wyatt was pretty severely lip tied.
I did a bunch of research on lip tie releases and made an appointment to have a consult with an ENT, who confirmed that not only did wyatt have a lip tie, but that he has a really minor tongue tie, that can stay as is. I was so on the fence about it at the consult that, instead of moving forward with the procedure, I decided to think about it some more. We went on vacation, I got more nipple pain and a clogged duct, and I made the appointment to have the release done.
So, for a week I was completely dreading this appointment. Feeling kind of like an asshole. Was I just being selfish? Am I hurting him so that I can feel better? Shouldn’t I be able to just deal with the pain so that he doesn’t have to? Every piece of information I could find on lip tie releases is that it doesn’t actually hurt that bad. Our ENT said that it feels as it does when you accidentally bite your cheek really hard. Based on this, I made sure to bite my cheek really hard and see how it felt over a few days - not so bad. I talked to our pediatric dentist at Jack’s cleaning on Wednesday as well. She, too, said it won’t hurt him badly, but that it would be very bloody. I never felt better about making him go have his lip sliced, so I can’t tell you whether or not I am actually a complete asshole or not. Here is what i CAN tell you:
The procedure was very quick. They had us put him in his carseat, a nurse held his head, and I held his arms. Another nurse was there videotaping, because apparently a lot of parents are wanting to see the actual procedure, so I let them tape it. The doctor applied a local anesthetic with some q-tips, and then clamped the frenulum for 10-15 seconds. Doing this crushes blood vessels and makes it “bleed less.” After clamping he used scissors and cut it - this was the part that I couldn’t watch.
It bled. A lot. I expected this because our dentist told me to. She also warned me that he will swallow blood and that its ok. If he spits up, to expect a brown tinge, and that we might find blood in his diaper as well. I am glad she told me these things, because I would have absolutely freaked out. It bled a lot when the procedure was done, and then on and off throughout the day. The procedure was at 11 am, and it last bled at 4-5 pm. I put him to bed at 7.
He cried a fair amount during the procedure. I would say that he cried about the same amount as he does when getting shots. After the initial crying, there wasn’t anymore crying. In fact, he promptly fell asleep because it was nap time. This pleasantly surprised me.
He was back to his normal self pretty quickly. Here is what he looked like around 5:00 this evening:
He was able to nurse immediately after the procedure, and has maintained his regular eating habits (and appetite!) throughout the day. He did skip a nap though, so that was out of the ordinary.
I didn’t take Jackson with us to the appointment, which was a good decision, because he would have freaked. He doesn’t love it when Wyatt gets shots, so I can only imagine how he would have reacted to this.
Recovery is supposed to take 3-4 weeks in total, and we have stretching exercises that we need to do several times a day so that it doesn’t reattach, which is common with lip ties.
I was looking back at photos of Jackson a few weeks ago, and there is a photo of him leaning his head back laughing. I noticed that he, too had a pretty good lip tie. I wonder now if that contributed to his preference of a bottle over nursing and to his self-weaning at 8 months old.
Overall, the procedure wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected going in. It still weighs on me, because when my baby hurts, I hurt, and I just hope that all of the information out there saying that it is just a “mild irritant” are correct. So far, he seems to not be at all miserable, so that makes me feel a little better about it all. Also, the nurses today commented that his lip tie was one of the tightest that they’d seen, so that helped me to see that this was necessary. In the end, I am happy to have some relief from the cuts and clogged ducts and other ailments. I am also so happy to report that Wyatt’s latch looks completely different now, and I can feel that his suction is SO MUCH BETTER than it was before! It was an instant improvement, and I was astounded!
If you are having troubles similar to ours, and thinking about having the procedure done, know that it’s not as bad as it seems. Also, I feel like I should mention that some doctors and dentists use a laser to complete the procedure, and that it is then cauterized, and so much less bloody, if at all, so if blood makes you really queasy, maybe look into the laser separation instead :).