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Cullen’s 32-month letter

November 10th, 2012

I’m a little behind on these letters. I have been working on this one since it was due in late September…anyway, here’s Cullen’s next letter. After his next letter at 3 years, his letters will be every 6 months.

Dear Cullen,

I feel like I’m always starting these letters in the same way, reflecting on how I can’t believe so much has happened since your last letter. It’s the truth, though! Every time I sit down to write these letters, I’m amazed at all the things that you have done since the last one. I’m glad that I have a habit of writing things down each week. I think one of the reasons that I’m good at recording these things is that my memory needs a little extra help!

We are amazed and entertained by you every single day. You can say pretty much anything you want to say, and you talk constantly. Your sister, who we used to think was quite chatty, often gets upset because she doesn’t get a chance to talk. It’s fun to hear all the random conversations between the two of you! I have started writing down some of the ones that I hear in the car on our daily commute.

One such recent conversation went like this:
You: I see a horse!!! I see a horse!! The horse was eating. I think he’s eating hay. Horses eat hay.
Maddie: Horses play in hay, too. Horses do just about everything with hay.
You: They are going to get a bucket and a shovel and fill the bucket with hay and then make a hay sandcastle.

I love how your little brain is always thinking about the world. You are very interested in telling us about all of your little facts. Recently, you’ve been telling us about the planets. “The sun is actually a star. Mercury is closest to the sun. Mercury is very hot. Jupiter is the biggest planet. Pluto is not a planet anymore.” You’re excited that your new room will have a space theme with rockets and stars and planets! You often spout out facts and observations about thunderstorms, 3D geometric shapes, construction vehicles, and many other topics. You are learning so much at school and just from the world around you.

We have recently learned that you don’t even stop talking in your sleep. On our trips when we have slept in the same room, we have heard you say some rather random things in the middle of the night. One time, you blurted out “I don’t want to, I don’t want to, I don’t want to!” and another time you shouted, “I want to brush my teeth by myself!” I guess you must talk in your sleep when you have stressful dreams.

Speaking of sleep, your sleep has been rather rocky lately. We haven’t had very good experiences in hotel rooms, so we’re a little nervous about how our long Disney trip is going to go! On our way down to Atlanta, we stayed in a hotel room with two queen beds. Daddy slept in a bed with Maddie, and you slept in the bed with me. We arrived at the hotel late, and you’d had a quick little 30 minute nap in the car. You would not settle. It took forever to get you to sleep, and you kept kicking me all night. You have never been a very good co-sleeper! We have had a few successes lately. You slept most of one night in our bed on one trip, and you took a few naps in the bed on the same trip. You have asked to sleep in our bed a few times since then, and you sometimes will sleep an hour or two there. Overall, though, sleeping in our bed just does not work well for you (or for us).

You have started to resist your naps, but you still need them. You tend to get pretty cranky in the afternoon and early evening when you don’t get a good nap. Your bedtime is around 8pm. We have a similar routine as we have had for a while. I typically take you to bed, and we read stories. We then transition to your bed. Sometimes you want me to sing Rock-a-Bye Baby and drop you into the bed when the cradle falls. After you get into your bed, you have to come back out and snuggle with me on the floor. We call this our “snuggle hug,” and we do one almost every night. It’s a very sweet hug, and we rock back and forth on the floor for a bit. You like to give me kisses on the lips. Someday this might embarrass you, but trust me…it’s very sweet from my 2-year old son.

You keep us on our toes! You can now unbuckle your seat belt in your car seat. Thankfully, you only went through a short phase of trying to get out of your seat while we were riding in the car. You also figured out how to operate the childproof gate that used to be on your bedroom door. You just unlatch it and roam freely in the house. Most of the time, you come straight to our bed to wake us up and start your day. Often, we will tell you “it’s too early” and “it’s still dark” and ask you to go back to your bed or join us for more sleep.

For a while, you had to have certain stuffed animals with you at night. After our trip to Atlanta to visit Great Grandma in May, you were very attached to Charlie bear for a while. You absolutely had to have him when you went to bed each night. After Charlie, you started to get very attached to Maddie’s Princess Minnie. When I went to Disney, I brought back a Sorcerer Mickey for you and a Princess Minnie for Maddie. I should have known that I should bring back two of the exact same item. Maddie allowed you to go to bed with Princess Minnie for a little while, but then she also wanted Princess Minnie. She was the source of many fights and tears. I eventually decided that it was worth getting a second Princess Minnie and called to mail order a new one. This restored quite a bit of peace in the house. Every night, you checked to make sure that you had the one with the “C” on the tag. You haven’t been particularly attached to specific stuffed animals lately. You went through a phase where you brought a buddy to school each day, and it wasn’t always the same buddy. It could be Charlie, Princess Minnie, Maddie’s “cheese cracker” dog, or something completely random. A few times, you have opted to bring a book instead of a buddy.

You love your story time every night. We usually read several books, and you pick out which ones you want me to read to you. For a little while, we had story time with Maddie, too. We would all climb into the glider and rock and read stories. I love that. I know it won’t be that long before the two of you no longer fit in my lap, so I’m enjoying it while I still can. Story time is one of my favorite times of the day.

Unfortunately, sometimes you lose your story time privileges. It turns out that you’re very much a TWO year old, and you don’t always listen to us. One of the things that works most of the time is to threaten to take away your story time. Fortunately, you don’t lose stories too often, but it makes me sad when you do! You can be incredibly willful, and I’m sure that will serve you well someday. I know it’s a typical toddler pushing boundaries phase, and you make up for it by being very sweet and cute the rest of the time.

You are still struggling with potty training. Well, it’s probably more accurate to say that your parents are struggling with potty training. You are perfectly content to poop in your pants. You have done pretty well with avoiding wet accidents, but you seem to have almost no interest in pooping in the potty. You don’t have too many accidents at school, so that is good news. We tried a reward chart where you get a sticker each day that you have an accident free day. That didn’t seem to motivate you very much. We never got close to having 7 accident free days in a row, so we abandoned the chart for now. I hope we’ll be able to try again before too long. For now, you are wearing a diaper at night. It’s almost always wet and sometimes dirty in the morning, so it may be a while before you are ready to wear big boy underwear at night. I’m sure you will make progress with the potty training when you are ready.

I’m sure you would say that you were potty trained “yesterday” or perhaps in “two more weeks.” When talking to us about time, anything that happened in the past happened “yesterday.” Anything that will happen in the future is in “two more weeks.” I like your simplified outlook.

You often talk about all sorts of things that happened “yesterday,” such as things that we did on the two beach trips since my last letter. We went to Edisto Island in South Carolina with Melissa and Jason in July, and we went to Ocean Isle in South Carolina during Labor Day weekend. Both trips were wonderful! The Labor Day weekend beach trip was the first time that we had gone on a trip with just the four of us without meeting family or friends at our destination. You and Maddie love playing in the sand but are a little unsure of the waves. You did some playing in the water at Edisto, but by the time we went to Ocean Isle, you didn’t want to get near the ocean. You liked playing on the steps at the pool, but you were scared to go into the water that was “too deep” (even if I was holding you). The two of you couldn’t get enough of playing in the sand and collecting shells. We built sand castles, we dug holes together, and we even buried you in the sand. We saw schools of stingrays swimming in the ocean, and you held a ball python at the Serpentarium!

We have had a lot of summer fun. You and Maddie often played in your little “baby” splash pool on our deck. You had lots of fun playing with bath toys and jumping into the pool together. Recently, you and Maddie were introduced to Goodberry’s for the first time, and we have had several outings there for “ice cream” this summer. You two usually share a chocolate custard with sprinkles, and we all enjoy going there. We went to several museums since our last letter, and we spent a good bit of time at Pullen Park where you love to ride the carousel and the train. We have all enjoyed riding the train at the Life and Science museum, too.

You love playing with the wooden train set in the bonus room, and we have made some giant layouts this summer. You sometimes will go up to play with the trains and matchbox cars by yourself, but we have discovered that you sometimes go up there to poop. We have learned to make you go to the potty before venturing upstairs by yourself. Once, you had an accident (though I’d hardly call it an accident – we think you are very aware of what you are doing here), and you must have sat in many places around the room playing with the trains. It took both of your parents to clean up that mess with Maddie running around the room yelling, “Yuck! There’s poop over here! And there’s poop over here!” Lovely.

Speaking of poop (which we often do these days), before we went to the beach with Melissa and Jason, I was talking to you about the upcoming trip. Out of the blue, you just started giggling and said, “They have poop in their yard!” This is true as they have a geese problem and the geese like to use their yard as a giant potty. You giggled some more, and you said, “That’s so silly! They POOP in their yard!!!” I assured you that Melissa and Jason do NOT poop in their yard and that the geese were to blame. You still thought it was quite funny.

You have a wonderful sense of humor. I love to hear you laugh, and you laugh often. You laugh at other people’s jokes. You giggle when you’re trying to get away with something. You snicker when you think something is silly. You are a fun boy to be around, and people remark about how happy you are everywhere we go.

You recently discovered bacon. On my birthday, we went out to our favorite breakfast restaurant. You and Maddie enjoyed chocolate chip pancakes, and you had bacon for the first time. This inspired you to spontaneously sing, “Bacon! Bacon! Bacon! I love bacon!” and dance in your seat.

You get joy out of so many things. You love playing games. You have gone through phases on what your favorite game is. Your favorite used to be Go Away Monster, then it was Candyland, and lately it’s Hisss. I love that you and Maddie are getting into games! I hope it is something you can enjoy for a lifetime.

Your favorite shows at the moment are Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Bubble Guppies. We still watch Disney shows more than anything else. You saw your first theater movie on Father’s Day. We went to the local dinner theater with friends and watched The Lorax. I think it made an impression on you and Maddie! Every once in a while, you still bring up that The Lorax was sad that they cut down all the trees and how he “goes up in the sky.” You had a very good first movie experience. We were amused that you cuddled a pickle from your dinner for the majority of the movie.

You have a great imagination, and you like to tell us what things look like or what shapes you see. You often hold up your food and say things like, “it’s a boat!” or “it’s a hemisphere!” Unfortunately, you also talk about the shape of your poops as well (see, lots of talk about poop lately). “It’s a pyramid!” “It’s a cylinder!” Once you looked at the sprinkler (the kind that looks like a fan of water), and you said, “It’s like a violin!”

Recently, you asked if you could take violin lessons. I don’t think many two year olds ask their parents to take violin lessons! You love music. You are great at remembering lyrics, and you often correct me when I get them wrong. I know I’m terrible at lyrics! You now know the NC State Fight Song (and I mean the one that nobody knows the words to) and Alma Mater in addition to Red and White. I’m so proud! I’m glad we have the little board book with the lyrics to the songs (and it helps that you have a Mommy who spent four years immersed in marching band and pep band. I might not know the words to everything, but I know the tunes!).

We have some exciting things going on between now and your birthday. Next month, we are going to Disney World! You and Maddie are very excited, and we have been talking about all the fun things that we will do there. You two are also excited about Halloween when you plan to be Jake and Izzy from Jake and the Neverland Pirates (another favorite show). At first, when we asked you what you wanted to be for Halloween, you said, “Minnie Mouse!” We didn’t talk about it much, but a few hours later I asked if you were interested in maybe being a pirate. You responded very strongly and said, “NO! Minnie Mouse! I want to wear a dress. I want to twirl!” A few weeks later, you tried on a pirate costume at a children’s museum and decided perhaps you did want to be a pirate. A few weeks later, you two decided to be Mickey and Minnie. You still fit into your costumes from last year, so we thought that would be perfect. Then, you two spotted the Jake and Izzy costumes at the Disney store and begged to be Jake and Izzy. Now that we have the costumes, it’s decided! You are planning to wear the costumes to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party while we are in Disney World, too.

Hopefully, your reaction to Disney World will be better than sometime this summer when we had a play date and you declared that you “almost had fun.” You say some funny things! Recently, you told Dana (your teacher who babysits for us at times), “you love me to the moon and back, just like Mommy does.” A few minutes later, you said, “if I went to the moon, you would miss me!” You antagonize your sister often and like to say, “I am getting under Maddie’s skin!” You tell your teachers things like, “the other day, I got under Maddie’s skin.” One day, Maddie said that one of her least favorite things was when you screech at her. You looked right at her and gave her your best screech. Daddy and I had a hard time not laughing this time. I hear you tattle on your classmates. You just have a lot to say about everything!

Earlier this week, Maddie spontaneously put her arm around you and said, “Cullen, you are a great brother.” You immediately replied, “You are a great sister.” I love these little moments between the two of you! You are often hugging and kissing each other, though we have to watch you two to make sure someone doesn’t get hurt!

You are a wonderful brother, and you are an incredible son. Yesterday, I told you that you were an awesome little boy and that I was glad that you are my son. You replied, “I’m a star, because I’m a sun!” Yes, indeed. You are a star, and we love you more than we can possibly express. We are glad that you are in our lives!


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