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20140219_143809_resizedI started blogging for Thirsties while I was expecting Cooper: my third child, my first boy, my last baby. He turns three this Sunday which is hard to believe. Unlike his sisters, Cooper does not have a “baby book,” and because of it,  I’ve been feeling sad and a little guilty. I could barely keep up with the girls’ two baby books and I was more than a busy enough with a five year old and a three year old to care for in addition to little Cooper. I immediately gave myself the out: “I’m not doing one for you, Cooper,” I told him (though he couldn’t understand), “I just can’t keep up with it all. I’m sorry.”

But just now, as I was contemplating making Cooper a photo book for his third birthday to chronicle his life so far, and lamenting the fact that I can’t recall his milestones like first steps, first word, likes and dislikes of his first and second years of life—I realized that I have more than two years of blog posts for Thirsties about my pregnancy, Cooper’s “Newborn Chronicles,” and many, many written accounts of our daily life together. I can honestly say that while I was writing the dozens of blogs Thirsties I had no idea what a gift they would prove to be for Cooper (and me).

At three years old, Cooper has truly gone from baby to little boy. He’s stubborn and opinionated, he’s empathetic and sweet, he’s likes to play rough but he’s shy. He adores his sisters and jumps into their arms when he sees them after school, saying “I missed you, Kate!” and “I love you, Lauren!” He’s very athletic–and continues to throw balls with his right hand but kicks with his left foot. He uses both hands to hold his utensils but draws with his right. He throws a Frisbee (and quite well) with his left.

He loves Monster Trucks and dinosaurs and his little stuffed dog named Rootbeer. He still has a special blankie that has the softest white fuzz on one side and fleece on the other. It has to be “just right” with the furry side facing up when he goes to sleep so he can rub it. And when he needs to be comforted, he rests his hand on my cheek and tilts my face towards his.

 So Happy Birthday, Cooper! You’re an amazing gift and a joy to raise. I’m very lucky to be your Mom. And I’m very lucky that I was a regular blogger for Thirsties when you were very little.

Do you keep baby books for your little ones? What other clever ways do you preserve the precious moments that you never want to forget?

 

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Education choices for my children | Bert Anderson for Thirsties

Last Thursday my husband and I embarked on a new phase of parenting: Kindergarten orientation and registration. It’s been five years since my son has been born and this coming fall he’ll start educational phase of life. It should be simple, shouldn’t it? Sending a child to school seems like an easy decision to make, one that’s not filled with second guessing or too much anxiety. What I’m beginning to learn is that it can be an easy decision, and perhaps it really should be; but in a day and age where there are so many options and so many opinions it can drive a person insane.

My core group of friends have children who are either homeschooled or attend a local charter school. When my son was an infant and young toddler I was certain that we would homeschool him. I liked the ability to set our own schedule, to monitor what my child would be learning and to control the social settings he would experience. As my son aged, it soon became apparent that he and I are so much alike that homeschooling him could be disastrous for our relationship. I also began to realize that like me, he is incredibly social, thriving in a social setting where there are other children and adults he can interact with. Like me, he also is competitive; heck, it’s how I get him to clean up! We race each other to see who can clean up the fastest. Since he started attending preschool he has really blossomed into this mature little boy because he’s excelled by being in a classroom setting.

Then there’s the charter school option; initially I was set on sending my children to the same charter school that my friends send their children to. The school places a high emphasis on academic learning with its curriculum being set in “classical education.” These children are bright. They are learning how to learn in a very vigorous educational setting. While it works for my friends and their children, the more I learned about the school, the more turned off I became. I feel that kids should be allowed to be kids. I’m not saying that I’m dumbing down my children by wanting them to have a typical elementary education. What I’m saying is that I want for my children to experience the holiday parties, the arts, and the physical education that a public school has to offer. Plus, I really do believe that my children have the rest of their lives to be a grown up; it will definitely be a longer time than being a child. I want right now, for their most difficult decision to be whether they should play with Legos or wooden blocks.

Without second guessing my decision, and after discussing it with my husband, we are sending our children (starting with my son) to the public school in our town. Without comparing my child’s educational experience with another or worrying about whether or not he’ll learn enough to function successfully in life, I will “go with the flow” so to speak. I will be involved in his education; it starts at home with my husband and me. As a parent you must be involved in your child’s education. You cannot solely rely on your child’s teachers to do it all.

That’s what we’re doing: sending our son to public school next fall. If it completely fails, we can always go a different route. Nothing is set in stone.

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Potty Training Fight. Bert Anderson for Thirsties

Well, I thought my daughter was ready to potty train this past December. She exhibited the signs: dryness when she woke up from her nap, telling me when she went in her diaper and then wanting it changed, and she was showing interest. One Saturday morning we decided that we would just dive right in. The first week went well; better than I had expected. She even pooped on the potty which is something my son struggled with when we were training him. Then the busyness of the holidays happened and little by little she became more careless. After a few weeks we started to just let her walk around the house pantless. Man, I got tired of looking at her naked little bottom half! So, I thought that perhaps we just needed to be persistent and have her wear underwear around the house so she got used to the idea that even though she was wearing something she still had to actually use the toilet to relieve herself.

We had a few mishaps but for a week things were looking up. Then a change happened and everything went downhill; it’s unexplainable really. I think the problem started because of our busy schedule. Three days a week my son has preschool and, naturally, his little sister is along for the ride. When we’re out and about I have been using disposable trainers so basically, there’s nothing uncomfortable about having an accident in a Pull-Up. It was a few accidents here and there when we were away from home and then she was consistently having accidents at home. I took away the underwear and went back to her being pantless when we were at home. No such luck, suddenly she was peeing all over the floor like she did when she was 18 months old (she’s 32 months now).

So, I’ve gone back to using diapers on her and you know what? She’s completely fine with that. She hated being told what to do and the battle of wills has just been too much for this pregnant mama to bear! For some reason, it was a hard pill to swallow. I felt like it was my fault; did I push her too soon? The more I think about it, the more I begin to believe that she really was showing me that she was ready. Now, for whatever reason, she just doesn’t care. It’s not my fault and eventually she’ll be interested again. She’s been back in cloth diapers for four days now and she isn’t bothered by it at all. One day she’ll be out of diapers today just isn’t that day.