I’m not sure how I recognize the pattern of birthday parties sneaking up on me and still have not seemed to conquer such by planning ahead. I suppose it’s just not a huge priority of mine and I’m getting more comfortable with admitting such.
After a week in Arizona, where for much of the time I felt under the weather, we returned home to the usual chaos that seems to greet us each time we leave only to return again: the piles of laundry, the house that smells because of some yellow that got left and mellowed too long, the empty fridge that refuses to let us break the cycle – thanks to traveling – of eating out, and the children that – despite the long haul – are still raring to go at all hours of the day.
We planned on hitting up Baby Beach and I hung to hope that there might even be an open picnic table, in the shade, that we could inhabit into the afternoon. But when we couldn’t even find parking, we quickly circled back around and planted ourselves at Doheny Beach instead, where we had a table, the shade of the empty lifeguard tower for Jimmie, and enough sand space to call our own — all going to show that you can’t always get what you want, but oftentimes you still get just what you need. We spent the morning with family swimming in the sea (well, the guys anyway), drinking lemonade, and watching the boys enjoy themselves. Having had to work the entire day before, I owe thanks to my mother-in-law for there being cupcakes to eat and a candle to blow out and to my own mom for providing refreshments and snacks. I suck at this stuff, I really do.
There were a few moments of ‘good-lord-I-didn’t-raise-him-that-way’ that are sure to come on a three year old’s birthday; moments of tears over the promised skateboard that had not yet been purchased but was planned for later in the day being the main culprit of impatience and whining that seemed to quickly disappear upon unwrapping a basketball, a transformer, a toy motorcycle, and a shirt with a baseball on it — all things his little three year old mind could think to ask for, and then some.
We returned home for midday naps, something I too partook in only to wake up a few hours later and find the guys on the sofa downstairs asleep as well. Everyone but Hooper, who refuses to nap anymore despite days where I know he really could use the pick-me-up. I woke Van, who was snuggled in bed with all of his new loot – his basketball next to his pillow and his motorcycle in his arms – and we took off for the skate shop just down the street.
He held his new skateboard in his lap all the way to dinner and then downright insisted to sleep with his helmet on, his skateboard lying adjacent to him.
I’m not really sure how the years go so fast, but I didn’t find myself dwelling on itt. Instead, I watched my youngest push himself along on his skateboard and felt proud of how independent and strong he his. No need to stay a baby forever when this stage, too, provides so much to be proud of.
Happy third birthday, Van. You are my everything.
Growth & Appearance: You’re tall and lanky, with long and skinny limbs. Your waist is small and you can share all your shorts with Van. You’re in a size 9 shoe and size 3T clothing. Your hair is long and it can finally fit behind your ears. You legs are almost always covered in tiny bruises from who-knows-what. Someone said you look more like Papa the other day, but most of the time people say you look like me. You definitely have my body structure.
Eating: You’ve been eating better than ever before. You still need encouragement at times, but there are entire meals that you will eat on your own and in record-for-you-speed. You’ll also try new things; sometimes begrudgingly. You’ve tried mangoes, kiwi, squash, and asparagus within the past month or so and you ate all of them. These are things we may have tried back in the day that you didn’t care for then, but seemed to tolerate now.
You’re also curious in things like ketchup, which you wouldn’t have liked before. You like ketchup with everything. You put it on your pizza the other day.
When given a cupcake, you typically only eat the frosting.
You eat your raspberries by putting them on the tips of your fingers and then eating them off one by one.
You like milk more than watered down juice and drink a lot of it. Sleeping: You still sleep with your blanket every night. Most nights you also have a small pile of toys or books you have deemed valuable next to your pillow. You always like your “stuff” nearby. You wake up around 8am, nap from roughly 1:30-4:30, and go to bed around 8:30pm. It’s been pretty steady and being that it’s the same schedule as your brother, it works out nicely. You guys sleep in the same room at night but we have to separate you for naps during the day. You rarely fight bedtime or nap time, but every now and again you surprise us. Talking: “Because” is you new favorite word. You use it all the time. Me: “Hooper, why did you hit Van?”, You: “Because”. Or better yet, Me: “Look at the cars on the freeway”, You: “Because, Mama” (which doesn’t make any sense).
“Nothing” is your other favorite word. Me: “Hooper, tell me about what you did at preschool today”, You: “Nuffing”. You’re like a little teenager already. My favorite is when you followed it with “I don’t wanna talk right now”. Ha.
You went through a phase where you’d ask us several times a day when our birthdays are. No joke, some days you’d ask more than 20 times. Needless to say, you know now when everyone’s birthday is.
You’re into telling secrets. More times than not you’ll come up to me, tell me you have a secret, and then say, “I wanna hit Van”.
The other day we were talking about the birds flying. I asked you if you’d like to fly like a bird one day and you told me, “No Mama, because I’d miss you”.
When you’re playing in the garage with Van, you’ll yell to me, “Mama, pweez come keep an eye on us!”.
Sometimes you’ll announce you have a question, “Mama, I have a question”. It’s usually followed by “Can I hit Van?” or “When’s your birthday”.
When you’re playing and I tell you it’s time for a nap, you’ll tell me, “just five minutes, Mama”. Or when I tell you to eat your food and you say, “just one second, Mama”.
You love to talk like a monkey but know we hate it so you’ll ask, “Can I do monkey talks?”. Sometimes we say yes.Development: When you see kids skateboarding or playing baseball, you say you want to do the same when you’re “bigger”.
You go to the bathroom completely on your own. Sometimes I don’t even know you’re going until you come walking out with your pants down. We haven’t mastered the pulling your pants part up quite yet. After that, you’ll be fully independent.
Every now and again, you’ll go to the bathroom in you pants overnight. It doesn’t happen often, but we keep you in pull-ups at night just in case.
One time, when I wasn’t looking, you started to pee right on the beach. A woman started laughing and pointed you out to me and then insisted that I take a picture of it, so I have a photo of you pissing on the beach. Right after that you told me you had to make ca-ca. I asked the same lady if she wanted me to photograph that as well. She declined and we went to the restroom.
In other potty news, you demand complete privacy when you’re pooping. Every now and again you’ll grab Van’s hand and insist that he take you ca-ca. It’s funny.
You went through a phase when you were into blowing into people’s faces. Luckily it passed because it was super annoying; though it was quite humorous when we’d overhear you asking Van if you could blow him. Rules before going anywhere included: say please and thank you, no hitting, wait your turn, and no blowing on people.
You can do a forward roll. You can also hop on one foot (really well on your left, but not so well on your right). You seem to kick a ball with your left foot. You still write with your left hand but you hold utensils in your right hand. You throw, mostly, with your right.
You ask me often about my collar bones and try to grab them as if they are removable.
You request that we drive “fast” and “get” the other cars (which means we speed up and pass the car next to us).
Much to my dismay, you’re more conscious of having your photo taken. The other day I had my camera out and you sat there and gave me a full on cheese ball smile. No idea where it came from but I’m learning that it’s really hard to unteach things society teaches us.
Like a bag lady, you shuffle all your stuff around from room to room. Currently you have your small suitcase full of cars and tractors and a basket full of books. It’s heavy, even for me, and you cart it around with you everywhere. You’re very possessive of your stuff and upset when you misplace it.
You know that “H” is the first letter of your name and you’re able to draw it.
You’re sweet and sensitive. You love animals and hate to see anyone sad. You’re still my number one cuddler. Favorites: You love movies with mice in them, like Stuart Little and Runaway Ralph. You watched the movie “Cars” for the first time and love it. But if there’s one thing you could do all day, everyday, it would be playing in the garage. You have all sorts of “things” out there that you refer to as your “home” and you like sorting it and reorganizing it. The “things” include cardboard boxes, an ice chest, your bike, a broom, beach chairs, small trash cans, and other random things you’d only find in a garage. You also love to sit with a book and flip through the pages. You tell me you’re reading your book and I have no doubt that you are, in your own way.
Growth & Appearance: I put you on the scale the other day and you seem to be about 35 pounds. You hair is blonder than ever, bleached by the summer sun. You’re little bum is white compared to the rest of your body. Your nails almost always have dirt under them.Your hair is long and you’ve started brushing it out of your face with your hand, holding it out of your eyes so you can see better. You have enough hair to put into a ponytail and every now and again you will request one. We ask you if you want us to cut your hair and you say “no”.
You have a lot of blond leg hair that glistens in the sun.
You have a natural six pack.
You wear size 3 or 4T. Pull ups / underwear size 4. And I think you’re in size 9 shoe; it’s hard to keep track. Eating: You’ve been eating well, for the most part. When you’re excited about what we’re preparing, you rub your tummy and refer to the food as “delicious”, pronounced “de-wish-is”.
You like to slurp your milk. It’s really annoying. For a short time you’d slurp it and then spit it out all over the floor. It was really fun when Van would follow suit.
You don’t like food getting on your face or lap; you’re a clean eater. If I offer you a bite that’s too big, you say, “that’s too big for my face”, which I think is funny.
Your favorite foods are whip cream, strawberries, hot dogs, and french fries; I swear we give you healthy food most of the time, however. Hot dogs, more than anything else, are your latest jam.
You also love milk (when you’re not slurping and/or spitting it out). And butter. You like to eat butter plain, right off the knife. Gross, I know.
You keep going into the fridge, taking the cap off the juice and hiding it. The other day I found the juice in the garage and the cap in a random basket. Sleeping: You’re back to taking naps. I make it my goal each day to tire you out and it works. You wake up around 7:30 or 8am with your brother (typically he wakes you up, I think). You’re ready for a nap after lunch, around 1 or 2pm, and you usually sleep at least 2 hours, sometimes 3. You go to bed between 8 and 9.
You still love your blanket, which you call your “dadgy”. You also insist on sleeping with a toy each night; most nights it’s a book.
When you wake up from your nap, we cuddle and you kiss you forehead and tell me, “You make me so happy”. It’s my favorite part of the day. You prefer to cuddle with me over your Papa because you say Papa, “makes you itch” (because of his facial hair).
Talking: You’re very expressive about your feelings; you say things like “I am too mad” when you’re told you have to do something that you don’t want to do. You’ll also talk back.
You call me “mom” from time to time and it makes me feel like you’re growing up too fast. Other times you’ll make it plural and call me “mamas” and I’m reminded that you’ll always be my baby.
For a while you were singing a song you referred to as your favorite but we could decipher the words and to this day I have no idea what your favorite song is.
When I scold you, I tell you to “look at my eyes”. I cannot tell you how many times I have overheard you scolding Van, “wook at my eyes, Van!”. Monkey see, monkey do.
You’ve started saying swear words. Specifically “f$#’n shit”; a constant reminder that we need to watch our mouths and that you hear everything we say. You use it appropriately too; like when we were in Hawaii and a lizard ran into our room and you said, “f$#’n shit”.
You say “bless you” after anyone sneezes. It’s a nice antidote to the aforementioned.
The other day you wanted me to watch something you were doing and instead of asking me to watch, you said, “Mama, turn your face around”.
When you tell people your name, sometimes you say, “Hooper, with an H” because I think you’ve heard us say that too many times. You get mistaken for “Cooper” often.
You must ask “why” a thousand times a day. I have been told by numerous strangers that I have the patience of a Saint. I tell them they have no idea. And no explanation is ever satisfactory; one why just gives way to another.
When something goes wrong, like you drop something, you say, “oh dear”.
You saw a blimp in the air and said, “Mama, wook at dat wocket (rocket)”.
You’re into potty talk. You love talking about buttholes and your “dumps”.
When a commercial comes on the TV, you look at us confused and whine about the TV “buffering”. Hash tag: Modern day kids.
You like to take it upon yourself to give Van a spanking when he does something wrong. You pronounce it “fankin”.
Development: We call you the bossman because you think the world revolves around you and that everyone is here on the Earth to take orders from you. When you’re overly bossy, it’s usually a sign that you’re tired.
You want to know the name for anything and everything. You’ll see a bird out the window and ask me what it’s name is. You’ll see a stranger in the store and ask me what his name is. You’ll see a dog and ask what it’s name is. You’re eager to identify everything.
You can put your slip on shoes on by yourself. Occasionally it gets stuck on your heel and you get frustrated.
You constantly ask me what all the signs say… the stop sign, the crosswalk sign, the “welcome to California” sign, the handicap sign, and so on and so forth. As I said, you’re eager to identify everything.
You refer to large bodies of water, like lakes, as bath tubs; “Wook at all dos ducks in that big baff-tub, Mama”.
You no longer use the little seat over the toilet, it’s something we abandoned during the move and you’ve adapted to the big boy seat just fine. You have regressed considerably with potty training, however. Prior to moving, I’d say you were 98% trained. Now, you wake up with a dirty diaper a few times a week and have been peeing in random areas all over the house. It was a real treat when you pointed out that you peed on a pile of clothes on my floor. Luckily this only lasted a few weeks.
You are offended when inanimate objects or animals don’t talk to you. You say, “Mama, that rock / bird / crab not talkin’ to me” with a pout and a frown.
You’re able to problem solve. Like if the ball gets stuck under the sofa, you first try to retrieve it using something long like a baseball bat.
You’ve gotten more social and are more inclined to go up to a group of kids and play. You’re not one to wander far or lose sight of me, but it’s obvious you enjoy hanging out with kids your own age and it’s been nice to see you come out of your shell a bit.
You hate getting hurt. You discovered a blister on the back of your heel and spent the rest of the day requesting cuddles and limping around. We’ll have to toughen you up a bit.
You ask about Sarah less and less, but have not forgotten. You’ve settled on the fact that she got hit by a car and is with Sammy. You’re very conscious of street safety as a result and I overhear you telling Van often to look both ways. It’s pretty sweet.
You’re into collecting an odd assortment of toys and things around the house and turning them into, what you call, a fire station. Like the other day when my bed was covered with a tennis racket, a hose for the washer and dryer, a few cars, a tape measure, a plant stand, and other odds and ends. When I started to clean it up, you told me to stop messing up your fire station. You do the same thing with your “office”; you have a plastic cup with some crayons, some coins, and a few allen wrenches set on top of the kitchen bar counter. You add things like junk mail and refer to this space as your office. Again, you get very upset when I try to clean it up. And if I clean it up when you’re sleeping, you immediately notice everything that’s missing when you wake up. You let it all go quickly too, however, and go right back to building a new fire station or office.
You want your privacy when you poop and request that we leave the bathroom. You shut the door behind us and then present your poop to us like it’s a meal you spent hours in the kitchen making.
You play with your dong a lot. I wouldn’t say that here except for the fact that you’re slappin’ that thing around all the time and if (when) it happens with Van, I’d like some sort of documentation that it occurred and did not fall off. Cuz’ right now, I’m worried about that thing falling off.
You’re cautious and caring; you tell me, from the backseat, to watch out for pedestrians or bicyclists or even cars in the distance.
Favorites: You’re still into your cars. You love building forts that you call your home. You like to throw a random assortment of crap on the bed and refer to it as your fire station (as mentioned). Curious George is still a fan favorite. And as cheesy as it is, I’m definitely on the top of your list of favorites. You tell me you love me several times a day, get downright insistent about cuddling with me, and give me the sweetest kisses all the time.
If you’ve ever spent time with a three year old, you know that they can flip faster than Evel Knievel. Hugs turn to slugs, “I love you” ‘s to “You make me mad“, kisses to bites… you get the idea.
When Hooper was 2, I feared 3. I have heard from many moms that two is overrated in being described as “terrible”; that three, instead, is where the real fun begins. And I agree, to some extent.
Some of my favorites ::cough cough:: ::nudge nudge::
Occasionally he’ll get upset if I stick a spoon full of food in front of his mouth because he’s “not a baby” and can “do it myselph”; though what he really means is I can do it by myself but by the time I finish it may be time for the next meal, or perhaps, I may have already died from old age.
“I’m da boss man” or, better yet, “I’m da po-eece (police) man”. He uses these phrases when he decides reprimanding Van would be better coming from him than me. At times I truly believe he thinks he’s the one in charge of both his brother and me.
The fact he will not let me help him out of his car seat so I have to wait what feels like a thousand years for him to get out of the car (seriously, it involves him looking in his cup holder to assess what “treasures” he’s leaving behind, then holding on to his “fireman” handle, then asking repetitive questions about something totally unrelated to the matter-at-hand, followed by bossing me around and telling me to take the hand off the door as if my hand on the door is assisting him in some way and preventing him from doing it all by himself). My back thanks him for his independence, my patience wants to push him out the door and blame it on his brother.
And then there’s the other stuff that prevents me from pulling my hair out from the aforementioned…
Like when I tuck him into bed and hold his head in my hands, caressing his face. He stops my hand when I get to his cheek, caresses my hand and strokes his fingers along my forearm and tells me he loves me. And when I say “I love you too”, he tells me he loves me more.
Or when I sneeze and every time, without fail, he tells me, “bwess (bless) you, Mama”.
Or when I yell at him for something he shouldn’t have done and for the next hour he follows behind me repetitively asking, “you mad, Mama?” with such genuine and sincere concern that he has upset me in some way.
Or when I get mad at Van for doing something wrong and he comes and apologies, on his brother’s behalf.
Or the way he compliments me when he likes my dress or necklace, or the fact alone that he even takes notice.
Oh three… you have your ups and your downs.
Growth & Appearance: You got a trim this month after your neck presumably started hurting after having to tilt your head up so you could peer through the hair in your eyes. You’re already due for another hair cut and I think your Papa and I agree that it needs to be cut shorter, otherwise we’ll be cutting it every month.
Your feet and nails are always dirty, proof of the amount of time you spend outdoors.
You had your 3 year well-toddler check up. You weigh 32.5 lbs and are in the 70th percentile for both height and weight. You’re on track to be just like your Papa, 6’1, 160 lbs.
Eating: Slowly but surely you’ve become “one of us” at the table. You eat the same food we do and do not require some ridiculous distraction to get a bite of food in your mouth. Not that all is dandy… you try to get up 20x during a meal and we’re constantly reeling you back to the table. I’m pretty sure Papa has threatened to tape you to your chair, but I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that so forget I said it.
You hate making a mess. You often whine when a bite of food lands on your shirt or when food spills off your plate. You require a napkin during mealtime so you can clean your messes.
I should also note that you still rely on us often to put the spoon or fork in your mouth. It’s ridiculous and, again, I’m embarrassed to admit it. You’re more than capable to do it on your own so long as we’re willing to sit there all. day. long. while you take you sweet ass time.
Talking: The other weekend, Papa took you to an outdoor market. You found a basket of old cars and Papa allowed you to chose one. He said you had a handful of cars in one hand until you came upon a tow truck and dropped every car that was in your hand and proclaimed, “WOWWWW”. You came home with a tow truck.
You’re very polite, always saying please and thank you.
Over this past month, you’ve added a lot of words to your vocabulary and are able to express yourself quite well. There isn’t anything that you don’t say and, these days, there’s very few moments where you’re not talking. The doc says you’re right where you should be.
You love saying “hola” (hello in Spanish) and “adios” (goodbye in Spanish).
There was a period where you answered everything with “shore” (sure). For example, “Hooper can you pick up that toy?”, and you’d say, “uh huh, shore”.
Sleeping: You rarely nap anymore, though you get cranky around 6 or 7pm and we are left to deal with your crazy shenanigans until we put you to bed. Some days you actually ask to take a nap but it’s so close to dinner and bedtime that we chose to keep you awake.
You sleep great over night for a solid 11-12 hours. And more times than not, your pull-up is dry when you wake up.
When you wake up, you yell at the top of your lungs “HA-WOAHHH” (hello!), followed this morning by “I gotta go potty!”.
Development: You’re beyond ready for preschool. As soon as my back is healed, that’s top on our list.
You love to lock doors.
You fully understand that I am recovering from a big “owie” and you often like to “make mama happy” by giving me a hug.
Sometimes, usually when you’re whining at the dinner table, you’ll say, “I wanna cry”. I tell you that you can if you’d like and you just smile.
You’re bound to cut your head open one of these days because no matter how many times we say “no”, you won’t stop jumping on the sofa.
You have a clear understanding of what’s yours and what’s not and that it’s not okay to touch or play with things that aren’t ours. When we walk past a motorcycle, for example, you look at me with your little palms held up to the sky and say, “not hours” (not ours).
You love to make funny faces and dance crazy in front of the mirror, wildly waving at yourself and turning around in circles.
You’re fully potty trained. One day you asked to make ca-ca in the toilet and ever since that random day, you poop in the potty. Sometimes you’ll fake us out and drag us into the bathroom what seems like a 100 times before you actually go… but you do eventually go.
You help me empty the dishwasher by putting the utensils away. You also help me feed Sarah.
You’re able to ride the bike g’paw Niles bought you for your birthday. It’s a tricycle and you finally figured out how to push on the petals after Papa taped your feet to them.
You surprised us when you got alphabet letters to put in the bath and you knew many of the letters. Hashtag: Thanks Super Why.
Favorites: You and your brother love watching The Fox Song on YouTube. Your favorite part is the grandma sitting in the rocking chair in the forest. Every time, without fail, you point and say “whook at gamp-paw” and proceed to chuckle. Every time.
Cars, tractors, trucks, bikes… things with wheels still rock your world.
You love playing outside, going for walks, or riding your bike.