Monthly Archives: December 2014

Dear 2 year-old Jack

Dear 2 year-old Jack,

Today was one of my proudest moments as a father. Today you swam. By yourself. Okay, you had the help of a “Jack Sandwich” also known as small floating pads, which just barely could keep your head above water if you weren’t moving. But you moved yourself in the water without any help. It was amazing. Realizing that you could go anywhere, of course you started chasing a ball down. Once you got said ball, you threw it as far as you could and then you went after it again. And again. And again. All by yourself. When your teacher told you to climb out of the water. You did so. And then jumped back in and swam to me. I am still smiling now.

I’m not sure why, but it feels like we worked harder for this than we did for walking. Week after week of swimming lessons, first at Atlantis in Burnsville and now at the YMCA Blaisdell in Minneapolis, you have been a trooper. As an 8 month old or a 16 month old it was just exciting to see you like the water, blow bubbles, and kick, but over the last few weeks, it has been exciting to see you push your limits. You go underwater and come up with a big smile. You throw a duck as far as you can. Then you “kick and scoop”, grab it, and then you try to throw it farther. Every now and then you turn to me with a “whoa” face and we share a moment where we both realize “this is awesome!!!” and then we go back to doing something cool.

Two nights ago, I was also quite proud. You wandered on to the porch while I was taking out the garbage and found your Mega Blocks. Similar to Duplos or big Legos, these are slightly easier for you to manipulate so we took the Duplos out of the bin and replaced them with the Mega Blocks. We then put the Duplos in the bag and left them on the porch for

Jack's birthday

Turning 2, we sang “Happy Jack” and ate cake.

rediscovery months down the road. Immediately, you started to build. Sticking two blocks together and then looking for another to add to your structure. You looked at me and said “castle” and I was transported back 25 years to my parents house where I would do this with Papa. So we built a castle. You put all your “guys” inside. It was pretty cool. For about 5 seconds. Then one of your “guys” bumped off a piece. You decided to tear the whole thing down. This time you said “tunnel” and so we built a new castle with a tunnel. The tunnel was big enough for the guys, but when the dump truck tried to go through it knocked down the wall. So this time you said “Tunnel. Castle. Bigger.” and so we did it again bigger. You learned the word “stable” pretty quickly. As you would put a piece on and then ask either to me or yourself, “stable?”

Watching you build, I realized how much of the image of God you have. Creating. Destroying. Building again. The gears in your mind are turning as you learn, explore, and stumble only to get up. You are still our little guy. But you are a little less little. Perhaps “bigger” like your castle.

You do a whole lot more than swim and build. You throw, you play the “tar”, you dance, you giggle, you tickle, you wrestle, you run. You run faster. You talk. You smile. You frustrate. You hit. You dump. You break. You hug. You brother. You love. You are my son and I love you.

Daddy

Slowly but surely the bass drum gets him going.

Slowly but surely the bass drum gets him going.

To Grace at 8 months

Our darling “Gracies” (which is what your brother believes your name is),

What joy you bring us. You slid into our family with hardly a peep, and 8 months in, I can barely remember what we felt like without you.
I mean, I remember bedtime being a little simpler, and getting out the door taking less time, but it feels like we have always been a family of 4. You suit us well and I suppose we suit you just fine, too.

You are fat and happy. You hardly ever cry except in the car sometimes. Your brother is your favorite person in the entire world and he can make you laugh like no one else. You began exploring our food, too, and while your gag reflex makes yogurt and applesauce a challenge, you’ve taken a shine to avocado and broccoli spears.

Being that you’re the second baby, I’m a bit more low-key in my mothering – and it’s okay, because you’re as low-maintenance as they come. As I write this, you are sprawled on the floor bed next to my side of our bed. I love nursing you to sleep and having you in bed with us, and since you still nurse through the night, it’s about 300% easier to have you in bed with me than in another room. Nonetheless, we’re trying to help you get comfortable sleeping on your floor bed, too. You and Jack napped in the same room for 20 minutes yesterday – a first for us and a small victory.

You’re going to spend the night at Gran and Papa Keller’s tomorrow, and I’m nervous for our first night apart. You have never taken a bottle very well, and at this point, 8.5 months in, we might as well go right to sippy cups.

We’re fairly sure your hair is red, what little bit you have! We’re so excited for a ginger baby. You have daddy’s blue eyes, two little bottom teeth, and a red “stork bite” birthmark at the nape of your neck.

You are quite keen to stand up these days, and just this week began trying to stand unassisted. It’s comical to watch because you cannot support yourself standing, so you’re upright only as long as it takes you to fall over. The only way I can slow you down is to put you in a dress, which only frustrates you – you’re on the move! Sometimes you crawl to and try to pull to standing on Jack, but he has little patience for this.

Jack’s general attitude toward you ranges between passing interest and indifference. He asks to hold you, and then pushes you away after 2.3 seconds. He tickles you pokes your cheeks until you cry (we’re working on better tickle methods). He squeezes your neck in over-enthusiastic hugs. And whatever toy you’re holding is the one he cannot live without. He does self-regulate to a certain degree: If he takes a toy from you, he replaces it with another. Sometimes you still cry in the car and Jack consoles you by shouting, “Gracies! ‘Kay!” (“It’s okay.”) it’s not very consoling, as you might imagine.

You’re most talkative in the 15 minutes after you wake up. We’ve heard “mama, dada, baba” but they’re still just sounds to you. Your laugh is what dreams are made of. We love to make you giggle with silly dance moves, peekaboo, and raspberries on your tummy, which even Jack gets in on!

You light up when we come in the room, and you make us light up, too. I am so glad you’re ours, sweet girl.

You’re the surprise that made me more the mama God intended me to be, and some moments – like holding you while you sleep – leave me dumbfounded, speechless at the miracle you are.

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