Tuesday, March 26, 2013


For several weeks before Kendan's third birthday I found myself in a panic. I was having trouble singling out distinct memories from when he was a baby. A small, new baby. My thoughts would immediately go to moments we had captured with pictures. Was I actually remembering that moment or did I use the picture of that moment to fill in what I thought I remembered? Even just typing that out I feel the labored breathing of panic coming back. The stress of not being sure if I actually remember my baby. The guilt that nearly kills me when admitting that. I close my eyes and picture myself rocking Kendan as an infant, look down at his face, and see.... Damien? Oh no! Are my more recent experiences with a newer newborn replacing my memories of Kendan? Again, intense panic ensues. Most things from about 20 months on are still relatively fresh for me. But, only a short three years following his birth, my very first months with the one person who completely changed my life are beginning to become cloudy. I am, thankfully, filling up on new memories everyday. New stories of the amazing things he says and does, the games he plays, the clothes he chooses to wear... But, then I begin to worry that these memories will soon fade as well. One day, God willing, he will be 8, 15, .... an adult. All of the changes and the new person he will become will fill my heart. Where does that leave today's memories?

I couldn't shake the feeling. The feeling like I did something wrong. That maybe I wasn't properly present in the moment. That this is my fault for forgetting. And that, one day, I'd forget Damien too. Again, as I type this, I am uncomfortable. It's a genuine fear. Something I have discussed with many people, has kept me up at night, and something I even dedicated many yoga classes to letting go of. I've come to the conclusion that it's going to be ok. My children fill my heart up so much that I honestly do not think I could hold one more memory, feeling, day, laugh, cuddle, tear.... or I would burst. I will take these new experiences with complete gratitude because I have the opportunity to even make them.

So, for myself, I have spent a lot of time remembering. I want to feel what it felt like to hold Kendan when he was only hours old. I want to go back. A few days before his birthday, Kendan woke up from nap a little cranky. I scooted him over in his toddler-sized bed so that I could cuddle him for a little while (as I often do), giving him the chance to fully wake up. I stared at his hair, his eyelashes, his hands. I watched as he sucked his thumb intermittently between falling in and out of sleep. Trying to memorize him at three years old. And when he was ready to get out of bed I held him and began to list memories, specific ones, I had of him as a baby. It started to pour out. I began describing things with details I thought I had forgotten. More and more excited as I realized there was still plenty that I remembered. I tried not to cry, or scare my sweet baby boy, as it all came flooding back to me and I became more and more enthusiastic! And then I just stopped. I felt satisfied that I had, in fact, not completely replaced his newborn memories. Gave him a hug and told him, "Mommy loves you so much". I have let it go. If I spend too much time worrying about what I missed, I am going to miss a whole lot more going forward. I am blessed with the memories I have. I will always rely on pictures to remind me, whether the memory is genuine or suggested, I don't care. I love to hear other people's stories about my children, let them help me remember. And, occasionally, I am sure an old memory will reappear.

Dear Kendan,

You have only been in my life for three years; but, I cannot imagine any kind of life without you in it. You have completely made mine worth living. It's amazing to think that I had 26 years before you were born but that the last three years have more of what I'll remember than any year before them. There are too many memories of you to ever list in their entirety. But, here are a few I cherish.

I remember waking up in the hospital in the middle of the night. You were bundled up and on your side, facing me, eyes wide open. Like you were staring at me, waiting for me to wake up. Just you and me. I knew then that my life was never going to be the same and that this tiny human being would be with me forever.

I remember how badly I wanted to hold you when you were under the lights for your jaundice. How I would pretend to be nursing you long after you were finished so I could hold you longer, even though the nurses told me to put you back down. You felt so warm even though you were only in a diaper.

I remember the first time your father and I attempted to let you "cry it out". I think you screamed for five minutes in the bassinet on your dad's side of the bed, and I cried right along with you. I was in complete agony! I wanted to pick you up and hold you so desperately.

I remember raising you up to see out of the large bay window in our house in Indiana. I would point and say, "sky, tree, green grass." Your gaze was so wide as you took everything in. I will never know what, if anything, was going on in your newborn mind but it made me feel so good to be in those moments with you.

I remember singing to you, one song in particular. A song I had heard many times before, but that didn't have the impact it did until after you were born. Any time you would get upset I would circle the house, holding you, bouncing you, and sing. That song will always mean the world to me, because of you.

I remember not wanting to put you down the night before I went back to work. I remember what I was wearing even. Standing in the living room, near tears at the thought of not spending a whole day with you. The heaviness on my heart in that moment can never be forgotten.

I remember one time when you were sick, a little older, and I was going through a mental checklist of all the things I could possibly do for you. Having completed them all, we were reduced to just rocking. You were sitting facing forward on my lap. I swayed back and forth and held a cool rag on your head. Your eyelashes would rise and fall with the rhythm of the chair. Your hair was long with curls on the end. I was worried about your not feeling well but completely calm at the same time, holding my baby.

Thank you for being in my life. And for turning three so that I may have the chance to go back and remember so much of what made the last few years so special. We all love you very much!

Happy Birthday!

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Kendan talks. A lot. Not any more, or better, than the rest of the kids his age, but all of his talking leaves me in awe daily. "When did he learn that?!" "Did he just say, ________?" It's helpful. He can tell me, in no uncertain terms, that he does not want to leave the park to go home for nap, and not just by throwing a tantrum. His talking is also helpful when I ask him what his little brother is up to from the other room or send him to ask his dad a question from upstairs. But, it can also be annoying. I remember when I longed for someone to talk to when Kendan was an infant. Now, I find myself wishing he'd be quiet for just two minutes so I can enjoy silence! He narrates his every move, he makes sound effects for his every move, and he tattles on Brother's every move. But, I do mostly love it. I'm so glad he can communicate effectively. I see Damien struggling with something and wish he could just verbalize the issue; I sometimes even expect answers to the questions I ask him. With increased vocalization comes a lot of repeating. We learned a while ago certain words that need to be prohibited from Kendan's ear shot. And, now it is whole phrases he regurgitates several hours, or days, after he has heard them. There are improper tenses, mispronunciations, and some flat-out made up words. Here are a few things Kendan has had us laughing, and cringing, at lately.

Everyone is a "him." Women, men, children, animals. And "him" seems to be the only tense of the word he acknowledges; there is no "he" or "his." So, a typical sentence I might hear from Kendan (and have heard from him) goes like this, "Mama, him put hims dress on! Him look so pretty!"

When Kendan goes to the bathroom he has to "tuck 'it' down" to ensure that the whole bathroom doesn't get sprayed. Recently, Mamaw Patti was in town and told Kendan she had to go potty. "Not forget to tuck it down," he happily reminded her.

Damien cries a good amount, considering he is a baby and all. Kendan has been known to tell him to "stop crying" and call him a "drama queen." But, lately, he has been standing up for his defenseless younger sibling. When we get frustrated and exclaim, "Damien, please!" Kendan is quick to say, "him just want a cracker!"

In teaching Kendan sounds over the last couple years I would say, "do you hear that sound? A (fire truck)." Kendan began inquiring about every sound he would hear with, "a noise?" and a puzzled look. The end of the word "noise" always in a higher, inquisitive pitch. As he got older it became, "heard dat noise?" And, now, he will ask me, "Mama, heard dat noise? It's a (fire truck)!" Answering his own question immediately, every time. My favorite part of this phrase is that it's always "noise." Not a sound. It's as if he's a crotchety old man and everything he hears is just "noise."

Spider-Man is "Pider-Man." It makes it extra adorable when he is very deep into character but is still pronouncing it incorrectly.

If Kendan needs to blow his nose he gasps and yells, "I have a booger!"

Everything is about control for Kendan right now. So, when I see him dancing around because he is about to pee his pants he will insist he does not have to go when I suggest that he should. He always tells me, "no 'doh' potty. I just rockin' and rollin'."

Kendan tells me each morning every item he needs at the breakfast table. My favorite is his dinosaur shaped vitamins that he calls, "rawr vemens."

When in the throws of the stomach flu recently, Kendan saw my Diet Coke sitting on the ottoman tray. He said, "I just have a 'little bit-it' of your pop. Ok, Mama?" It is so sweet when he says "little bit-it" for "little bit" that I almost caved and gave him some! Had I not feared catching the virus myself I would have.

Anything Kendan suspects he will not like at the dinner table is avoided as he says, "I no like dat. It make me cough."

In the last couple weeks Kendan has really gotten into Star Wars. But, he refers to Darth Vader as "Star Wars." When Vader comes on screen Kendan gasps and says, "Here come Star Wars! Oh my gosh!"

If Kendan has not done something I asked him to do his favorite response to my asking if it's done is, "not 'et'." I cannot get mad at him for having not yet completed something when he says that!

My tampons have always been a favorite toy for Kendan. He always knew they were called "tampons" too. Then he had to know why I had them. I told him they were for when Mommy goes potty. A couple days later, while straining to push out a poop, he looks at me and whispers, "I need a 'two-m-pon'."

I use the maps app on my phone often and Kendan likes to repeat the verbal directions it gives. Once, it was telling me to make a U-turn. From the backseat, Kendan repeats, "Mama, U-turn!" I said, "a U-turn?" He frustratingly yells, "no, you turn! I no have a steering wheel."

I taught Kendan his birthday, the street he lives on, the state he lives in, and his full name one day. But, the full name part confused him. "Kendan Guy Kaplowitz," he repeated. And then he said, "I not Guy Kaplowitz! Dat Grandpa!"

He has even begun to make up people and languages. He made up a super hero named "Tag-a-wa" who "has a weird tooth." When he wears his blankie on his head I know he is "Tag-a-wa." And I know to just reply with "oh really?" when he begins speaking in jibberish during lunch because it is a made up language. Every night I sing him two songs before bed. Long gone are the days of singing "Twinkle Twinkle" and "Hush Little Baby." He has had me making up impromptu songs about whatever random object he chooses from his line of sight for a while now. But, I knew I was in for an entirely different stage with my child when he had me make up a song about a made up word! I couldn't tell you what the word was, or the random lyrics to my song, to save my life.

I swear he became an overnight teenager with as much as he says. Thankfully, his blankies are still "ah-ah's" and Damien is still "Brudder." But, other than that I never know what we will get from his mouth. It may make me crack up, it may make me shudder in embarrassment. But, usually, it makes me completely melt. I couldn't have envisioned that even the sassiest thing coming out of my toddler's mouth could be one of the best things I have ever heard. It has brought my attention to what I am saying in front of him, to just how much he is learning every day, and it has been an insight to how is amazing little mind works. He can express concern, interest, worry, emotions, and every feeling with almost complete clarity. It has made us closer. We communicate. And when I look at him and tell him, "I love you so much" and he replies, "I love you too" it is the most amazing thing I have ever heard him say.