Jack is 3-years-old. THREE!
For some reason that just seems so mature to me. He's a little boy now, a baby no longer!
I've found this age to be great and not-so-great all at once. We've both done a lot of growing over the last year.
|We had Jack's birthday at a local playplace this year.|
Watching him grow and develop? Awesome. Seeing his personality really shaping up, having conversations with him, witnessing his imagination starting to really show, all full of greatness. Testing boundaries, testing boundaries, and let's just throw it in there once more, testing boundaries, that's the not so great.
I've definitely found this stage the hardest yet. I just feel so clueless sometimes. I mean, the whole goal of parenting is to raise a well adjusted, happy, productive member of society, right? But I'm fairly certain this time, right now, is when some people start down the path to becoming an ax murder and an ax murderer for a son, I do not want!
|We kept things as simple as possible bringing in a couple dry snacks and cupcakes and getting pizza, pop, and salad provided by the place where we hosted the party.|
Yes, this is what's going through my head when we're talking about the same. things. for the thousandth time. Shouldn't he know he can't do this by now? Clearly I'm not parenting effectively, but what the heck should I be doing differently?! Parenting should be a degree offered in higher education because I certainly need further study.
Having a 3-year-old has tested my sanity and determination and strength the way nothing else ever has and when I say being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done in my 26 years I'm not over-exaggerating that. Parenting is a mind game if nothing else and your kids live to push your sanity to the limit. That's why they're all sugar and spice. They push and push and push until you're sure you can't do this parenting thing for one more minute without ruining both of you, but then they snatch you right back from the edge of crazy by doing something so cute and sweet that you just can't stand it!
Parenthood: a lesson in extremes.
Well, the good news is we've both survived 3 years now with our sanity (mostly) in tact.
All drama aside, Jack really is at a very fun age. We can have conversations now. Like, real, whole conversations using complete sentences. When did this happen?! A few weeks before Christmas it's like he just woke up one day speaking proper sentences and just understand things so much more. That's the point where I think he really became a 3 year old. When I look back at his language development over the last year it's just mind boggling. At his 2nd birthday he wasn't talking much at all. He definitely had a good grasp on words, but I don't think he was really doing much more than very small phrases, if that. Now? Whole conversations! It's no wonder he slept like crap all summer. There was a lot going on in that little head!
He's still really into cars and trucks and pretty much anything that moves (surprise!). Jack has quite a few little monster trucks and he likes to line them all up and set up his crunch cars to play Monster Jam (which is also one of his favorite things to watch). He makes them jump and drive around and emulates the announcers and sometimes he pretends that the trucks get broken like on TV. He's also pretty into Thomas the Train right now and even sings the theme song. He drives so many miles on his knees that I'm sure he's going to wear holes through every pair of pants he owns. He's already done so with at least 3 pairs and several more are well on their way. Good thing the worn in look is in style, yes?
He loves reading and has several books memorized. You'll hear him over the monitor when he wakes up in the morning or when he's having quiet time "reading" books to himself. It's so adorable I just can't stand it. My Truck is Stuck is among his favorites and he loves to act out the story with his cars and trucks while reciting the story. Love!
We read so often that he's so excited when he gets new books to read! He loves visiting the library and picking out books and when I make a quick stop on my own to pick/up drop off books I usually try to pick out at least one book to bring home to him because he just enjoys it so much. It's definitely a treat to him and one of his favorite things.
Something he has started doing recently is singing songs. Most often it's songs he has heard on shows or movies, but he sometimes just makes up his own, which is just as adorable as it sounds. He has known his ABCs for a while, and that's still a favorite. He really started singing songs right around Christmas because he liked songs like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells.
|Jack did a good job blowing on his candles this year, but still needed a little help to get the job done!|
He knows all of his letters by sight and has for quite a while now. We're working on matching sounds to letters. He also mostly knows his numbers 1-9 by sight. We're still working on this as it seems that there isn't as much opportunity for seeing them/talking about them as there is with letters. He's proficient at counting to 15 and we're working on getting to 20, but he frequently just likes to stop after 15. He knows all his colors. For some reason he often confused yellow and orange until recently, but I think he has that worked out now!
|He had a ton of fun at his party! He was talking about it for days afterwards and asking to go back!|
So, quiet time. Yeah. This has been quite the transition. Over the summer he was sleeping very poorly. I knew he was going through a big developmental period and I'm sure that's what was causing the problem, but it didn't stop me from cursing the heavens and wondering my my kid would. not. sleep. fortheloveofallthat'sholy! Yes, I desperately need him to sleep so that I can sleep (see aforementioned needing sanity to remain in tact. My level of patience is directly correlated to the amount of sleep I get at night.).
Towards the end of the year, his night sleeping really did improve, but he seems to be transitioning out of naps completely. And what a fun transition it is! (sarcasm, don't parent a toddler without it.) Of course the problem is that although he really doesn't seem to need a nap every day there are some days when he does and he just really can't make it clear til bedtime without a nap. Enter: quiet time. When he started to leave naps behind it was quickly apparent that he still needed some sort of rest time. He needed the opportunity to sleep if he was able to, and at least some down time, if not. Plus, momma needs a little break during the day to regroup and prepare for the rest of the afternoon/evening. Jack has never been one to sit quietly for an extended period of time watching TV, and definitely doesn't fall asleep anywhere but his bed.
|He (not so) patiently waited nearly 24 hours to enjoy his cake! He kept asking if it was time to eat the cupcakes while I was making them.|
When I first recognized the need for rest time Jack was still in a crib. He would just stand in there, throwing his menagerie of animals and blankets out of his crib screaming for me over and over. It was not relaxing for anyone involved. Shortly thereafter we transitioned him to a toddler bed (his crib breaks down into a toddler bed). I was dreading this process and we kept putting it off, putting it off, until finally, right around Christmas, we took the plunge. And you know what? It was no big deal. He transitioned just fine.
Anyway, back to quiet time. Once we put him in the toddler bed he had access to the rest of his room. This was scary. Early attempts at quiet time resulted in him being angry in his room, getting into trouble in the form of kind of tearing things apart, and the like. But we stuck with it because it was important for both of us. When we could tell he was doing something he shouldn't we went into his room, told him no, explained again that he was supposed to be resting and that he could read books if he wanted to. We also tried to end quiet time in a reasonable amount of time and to go get him when he was actually being quiet/resting if it was at all possible so we could reinforce to him that this is what we were looking for.
Eventually, maybe a week or two later? Quiet time was really quiet time. Now he goes in his room, we go through his usual bedtime routine of reading 3 books, laying down, getting covered up, giving kisses and saying goodnight, and then when he doesn't sleep (much more often than not) he just kind of hangs out back there. He sings and talks to himself and reads books and after about an hour (unless we can tell he's getting very restless, which is a recipe for disaster) we go get him and tell him what a good job he did with quiet time. Or at least this is how it goes a lot of days. He still has days where he tries to rebel. Hopefully this will continue! Who can't use a little rest mid-day? Nobody, that's who.
|Grilled cheese and sweet potato fries. Always a favorite!|
I feel like his eating has improved over this last year. There's still a lot of room for improvement, but he's much more apt to try new things now than he was several months ago. I hear the picky toddler stage eventually improves. Despite being somewhat restrictive he does eat a decent variety of things. He's still not big on eating meat, but sometimes he'll surprise us with what he will eat. One thing he does tend to like quite a bit is meatloaf. We're getting there. He still only drinks water. I even let him try some hot chocolate after playing in the snow a few weeks ago and he didn't care for it. Ah well, water is best for him anyway!
Jack has transitioned very well into being a big brother. Of course I was worried about what his reaction would be to getting a little sibling, but to be honest, I wasn't as nervous about it as one would think only because I know Jack. He's pretty laid-back and accepting. Plus, it doesn't hurt that he's rather interested in little ones even allowing for the fact that it's different when that little one is permanently living in your house! He's still fairly uninterested in Molly, but that's to be expected as she doesn't yet have much to contribute to their relationship. He is concerned about her and he does pay her some sporadic attention and sometimes likes to help care for her by carrying bottles or overseeing a diaper change. I'm confident that this ongoing transition will eventually yield a good sibling relationship between them and I can't wait to watch it evolve. Jack is a great big brother!
|On Jack's actual birthday we celebrated by playing at an inflatable playland.|
Another favorite of Jack's is playing with other kids. He loves to get together with kids from our playgroup and frequently requests to "see friends". He just loves being around other people his age and he'll happily play with kids younger as well as older than him. He just loves to be on the go and at least once a day everyday requests to go somewhere in the car.
|And followed up with lunch at Panera, like last year!|
Speaking of the car, another milestone for Jack is riding forward-facing in the car. When he was about 2 months shy of 3-years-old his convertible car seat expired and we needed to get a new seat for him. We decided to go with a Graco Nautilus, which is forward-facing only, but is a 3-in-1 seat with extended 5-point harnessing so it should last us a long while. I was hoping to make it until at least 3-years-old before turning him, but considering the circumstances it was time. He loves facing-forward so much because he can see everything! He was content to be rear-facing just because that's all he knew, but now, he can see the world! He spends all of our car rides just chattering away about all the vehicles he sees and asking about what all the street signs say. Now, if I could just get him to understand that it's hard for me to hear him upfront so he needs to speak up if he wants me to be able to fully understand what he's saying!
Another great year has passed and I might just survive the whole toddler stage after all :)
Finally! It only took me 6 days to finish this post and get it up! I guess that's what happens when you have a 5-week-old baby who needs attention round the clock!