In Defense of His Brother...

Yesterday Max smeared his jelly-covered face all over a giant pile of newly washed sheets, pillows and blankets that he was using to make a "fortress."
Sighing loudly, I said "Max, you are driving me crazy!"
Taking this scene in, Harry told me: "But Mommy, Max is a really good builder. He can build anything -- Legos and forts!" He said it like he was trying to remind that Max had some positive attributes, so we should probably keep him around. :)

I WILL get up to the top!

Happy Birthday Max!!!

When I look back at my pregnancy with Max, his personality was clear in utero. He never stopped moving. Harry was like a sloth who seemed to be stretching out every now and again to yawn, maybe. Max gave constant little kicks as if he were running, or in training for life. For three weeks prior to birth, on the same day each week, I had very real seeming contractions for hours and hours, so much so that for three weeks we set the plan in motion that we were having the baby -- Rob called off work, Beth/Lach and Alice picked up Harry, the doula was on alert, Auntie Steph and Uncle Joe prepped for Harry overnight duty. And then....nothing. Now that I know him, I feel that he would find this chain of events HILARIOUS, because his favorite things include: Hiding, Playing tricks, or Surprising you (as he says SUPLISE!)
Here he day late, but already plotting his next move. 

I am hours old, but I am awake, and I will never sleep again. This world is so interesting! At 3, Max is getting better about sleep, especially since the adenoids were removed this year. But, he still does not like sleeping. He is not one to ease into his day either. As soon as his eyes open, he is immediately jumping or dancing on the bed, or running. Thus, the other three of us in the household do whatever we can to avoid disturbing him during sleep.

Brothers meeting for the first time.
Max at 3 does not like to be separated from Harry. He gets very upset if one of us tries to take Harry somewhere without him. When we take Harry to school, he tries to blend in with the other kids in the preschool class, sitting at the table, starting on the projects, as if I will just get confused and leave him there. He had a blast on Harry's birthday when he got to stay to be part of the class for Harry's birthday celebration. He talks about the other kids in Harry's class as if they are his friends too. (Some of them are, but still it's so cute how much he wants to be part of school.) Four out of five days that we pick up Harry from school, Max greets him at the door with a hug. 

Max mimics Harry in many ways, repeating what Harry says and following his lead, but he's definitely a leader in his own right. He brings out Harry's silly side, and makes him laugh harder than anyone else. He's the one who convinces Harry that it's fun to swim in the dirt, or play trucks in the rocks. He will get a crazy idea and as long as Harry is laughing, he will follow it through no matter what, no matter how loud Mommy and Daddy yell. Max definitely loves an audience. And he has a sense of humor beyond his three years. 

First Birthday. 
Strong-willed, assertive, bossy, bull-headed, willful. Max is all of these, and then some. The child does not give up. Ever. I've said before that I believe he will do something amazing in life like cure a disease or climb a mountain or break a record, not just because I'm his mother and biased, but because I've been on the other side of battle with him, and you cannot win if he has pitted himself against you.  

Little Boy.
How is he 3?! His hair is two shades darker, and he's growing like crazy. Apparently the growth is fueled by snacks. He is a big lover of snacks. As soon as we wake, he is harassing us for snacks. Especially the individually wrapped kind, which we usually don't have much of. He will do anything for an individually wrapped snack. The other night, he went to bed clutching an individually packaged granola bar, holding it against his face. He loves to go to other people's homes and get a gander at their snacks. If you have recently gone to Costco, he is your best friend! And he has a giant sweet tooth. He dreams about cake, candy and dessert. In one week's time, he talked in his sleep twice about sweets. Once it was "Mommy, give me that candy!" and a day later "I want to have that milkshake!" He woke up this morning saying "I didn't finish my ice cream!" But neither Rob or I could remember him having ice cream for a couple weeks at least. 

 I told him he looked like Daddy in this outfit, and he was very proud. He dresses himself now (even though his brother doesn't...) and likes to do everything himself. In fact, if you try to do something for him, he will UNDO it, then REDO it himself! The other day Rob picked Max up and carried him from the bedroom to the bathroom, but Max wanted TO DO IT HIMSELF! So he flailed until Rob put him down, then ran back to the bedroom to start the path over and walk to the bathroom HIMSELF. I lifted him to his car seat this week, but that also prompted a do-over. After I put him in the car seat, he jumped to the ground to erase my movement, then said "I do it myself!" With quite a defiant look, he climbed into the seat himself. Oh. Wow.

A rare nap, after a day of playing VERY HARD.
While trying to be very grown up, Max still has some baby ways that we adore -- such as his use of L's for R's. "I'm going to show James my sclatch." (Scratch.) "I'm blushing my teeth!" (Brushing) Rob's favorite: "Look at that blidge (Bridge)." Or, "I'm going to play tlains!" (Trains!) We recently let him play his first computer game, so now he says: "I want to play pbskids dot KORG! 
He still gets things mixed up in adorable ways. "I'm looking for a paterciller!" (caterpiller) 
If you catch him at the right time, he's a major cuddler. We love that part.

While being a crazy, challenging kid, he can also have his quiet, focused moments, especially if art projects are involved. We are taking a class at the arts center, and he pays attention so well and is very serious about his art projects. 

And he is a superhero. Daily. He is always flying in the sky, fighting bad guys, catching "roberts" (robbers), and shooting Spiderman webs at you. It's exhausting and challenging being the parent of a superhero, but he gives us many, many smiles. Happy Birthday Max!

Willy Wonka in the Making

Max has been sick, so we woke up again with him in our bed.
In the early morning hours, heard these words from him:
He was totally asleep.
That one kills me.

Overheard this week

I wake with a start. There is a small child in my bed. I believe he has just kicked me in the face.
I hear: "I want to have that ice cream."
I look closely at the child, who spoke as if we were at the dining room table eating dessert. He is passed out, so asleep.

In other news:
Mommy (while talking to Daddy and having Harry scream at me): "Harry, you are interrupting me."

Max: "I'm going to get bigger and bigger and bigger and I will be bigger than Harry. Harry will be smaller."
Mommy: "What will you do when you are bigger?"
Max: "Reach all the snacks."
Harry: "I'm going to play wii fit whenever I want."

Harry at Five!

Lately, Rob and I have been feeling like "Good God, we have raised children who only talk about bathroom humor and don't listen or follow directions."

And then we had Harry's first parent-teacher conference. As she started talking, I braced myself for it. The dreaded call-out on our failures as parents: He is a distraction in class. He ignores the teacher. He takes toys from other kids.

Because that's what we see at home. That is the behavior that drives us both crazy every bedtime, or every morning, when we must tell him 126 times to get dressed. "Use both hands to pull on your clothes, Harry!"

I took a deep breath and grimaced, waiting for the news.
"Harry is all about the other children," the teacher said.
Yes, we know. He becomes obsessed asking what are they doing, ignoring what he is doing.
"And of course, I'm sure he talks about Madeline," she said. (Name changed to protect identities.)
"Madeline has some trouble in class, and Harry is always holding her hand or trying to help her when she cries."
My child?!!! Rob and I are silent. For me, it is because I am choked up.
"He's a daydreamer, for sure," she said.
OK, that is my child. How I would love to be in his head sometimes.
It was my first time stepping outside my own view of Harry and seeing how he is operating out in the world without us. I guess sometimes he does hear us?

Little brother was so excited to be with the big kids at the class party!

Harry is definitely moving from the "little boy" stage to "boy" stage. One day, he came out to breakfast from his room, and it seemed as if he had grown inches overnight. Rob and I both commented on it. It was like "When did you become a teenager?"

At 5 years old, his interests are:
1) Superheroes, in this order -- Spiderman, Batman, Superman
2) Legos
3) The newly discovered world of computer games and wii fit. He will run in place for 20 minutes if I let him.
4) Playing elaborate "good guy-bad guy" games with his brother
5) Pushing the button to open the garage door (a novelty for us all!)
6) Making sure I know where I am going

He still dislikes: Candy, frosting, cake, getting his hands dirty, not knowing where we are going.

We saw him blush for the first time when we ran into two of his preschool teachers at Costco. The adults were all thrilled to see each other, but he stood silently there, like "OMG, what are they doing here?!" After they moved on, he buried his head in my legs and his cheeks were bright pink!

He still doesn't like to do art projects, or color. He would rather play, play, play! He is taking swim lessons, and has even put his head underwater after much coaxing. But he nearly drowns the sweet high school girls who are his instructors when they try to make him swim, as he obviously does not trust that they will not drown him. He takes gymnastics at school, and we can see the improvement in his coordination (Ugh. He inherited my lack thereof.) He just started back up with soccer, and the whole family is looking forward to the season, as Rob will have his first assistant coaching position! (He would only agree to do it after I convinced him that it was unrealistic to think our small town of 23,000 was filled with former pro soccer players who are now dads and out to crush his team. )

Harry is really a sweetheart, and tries hard to set a good example for his crazy little brother. He can read but insists that he can't. He will have me write out four to five pages of sentences that he reads out loud to me. But when I ask him to read from a book, he says "I can't read book sentences!" We catch him reading to himself when he thinks we're not looking, whispering the words.

In summary, he is such his own little person, I can't believe it!

Happy Birthday Harry!


Max the Stormtrooper

Max the Stormtrooper, center

My next post will be about Harry, who is turning five, really 15, in about five minutes. But right now, as I stare down at my sleeping baby Max, I am trying to block out the EPIC battle it took to get here.

Rob and I believe that Max was born a two-year-old. In temperament, that is. So now that he has fully embraced his two-year-old irrational madness, things have been amped up a notch for all of us. The good thing is that I feel like Rob and I are trying to recognize it more for the beautiful insanity it is. (Although Mommy and Daddy do still take timeouts when certain two-year-olds emerge from a timeout only to "CLUSH" --or "crush" as everyone else says it -- his brother's Lego police station just to show everyone that he is in charge.) We know Max will move on from this -- we hope -- and turn into a teenage boy who does not hug his mom (wah) or wear his every emotion on his sleeve. But now, his sleeve can be truly hilarious at times. He can be a complete maniac for a second, then run up, demand the biggest hug, grab Daddy's face in his hands and say "I love you." Sigh. Every OMG YOU LITTLE *&^^% is generally followed up by a "Sigh. You are the sweetest thing" within a few minutes. He's a master.

What These Two are Up To

--Is pronouncing his r's as l's right now...Refers to his "Froggy" lovey as "Floggy." Found him hiding outside the bathroom door while Harry was inside. He told me "I'm going to Suplise Harry!"
--Only participates in toddler basketball because of the snacks. Otherwise, lays on the floor. Last week, the mom charged with snack duty waved a bag of fruit snacks in front of him, and he ran out on the floor and made a basket! (OK, Coach Tim had to lift him up.) Then he laid back down on the ground.
--Loves individually wrapped items. He is so intrigued by them. We are at odds on this issue because I hate them for the needless waste but they are so effective at bribing him!
--Had a tantrum last week because I would not let him drive the minivan. True story.

--Is doing somersaults and learning to skip at his Tumblebears gymnastic class.
--Is obsessed with our new wii fit, which I allow him to use in the afternoon when we can't go outside. The idea is he burns excess energy this way instead of doing laps around the kitchen and driving me crazy, or wrestling his brother and ending up in time out. His approach: "Mommy, can I do the wii fit? It's really healthy to exercise." Isn't he good?
But he beats me every time we try to race. I know I can run so much faster than him, but somehow the way the wii fit registers his little body makes him a superfast runner! I nearly pass out trying to beat him! Love that he will run for like 25 minutes without stopping though.
--Loves eating clementines.
--Is often worried that we will run out of gas. He checks in with me often to make sure we will make it to our destination. Also does not believe that people will be able to find our new house. When I tell him someone is coming to visit, he says "But they don't know the way here!"

Oh these boys. Love them.